Anyone who reads fantasy novels knows that fairies typically play a large role in ANY story. Usually small, human-like, with wings, impish in nature, and a mix between evil and conniving, or childlike and whimsical. Fairies aren't real, obviously. Many European texts claim to have seen them, but modern suggests... nope.

However, Michigan actually DOES have fairies dwelling in its forests, but they're not quite the cute, dainty creatures you're thinking of... they're shrimp.

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Michigan has a lot of wetland. In fact, a former U.S. Surveyor-General in the 1800s said trying to colonize Michigan would be a lost cause, mostly in part because of swampy, wet land.

Obviously, we did end up colonizing the state, but the swamp and wetlands remain, and so does some of its mythical fauna.

Each spring, the forests of Michigan develop Vernal Pools ("vernal" meaning "Spring"). Most of them will disappear when it comes to summer, but for a short time, they create a small little ecosystem of their own in the forests. And in them, are some creatures you wouldn't expect to find in the middle of a forest - shrimp.

Fairy Shrimp eggs that lie dormant during the drier months, will hatch when the vernal pools fill up in the spring, forming a temporary habitat for them to thrive in. It only takes 41 days for the fairy shrimp to mature, but once they do, their prime motivation is to eat, and reproduce.
And it goes without saying... but they are VERY small.

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A typical life cycle of a fairy shrimp in Michigan's vernal pools starts as early as December, and will end toward the end of May, or early June.

But they aren't the only species that thrives in these temporary pools. Other amphibians like wood frogs, spotted salamanders, and blue-spotted Salamanders thrive in the temporary wetland.

Most of them will survive the winter by burrowing into the ground. Then, when the vernal pools are full, and it's warm outside, they'll come out and lay their eggs in the pool. Those eggs will hatch, the animals will grow to maturity just in time for the pool to dry up, and do the whole process over again.

So the next time someone says Michigan's just covered in snow all the time, be sure to remind them that it's one of the most diverse states there is... I mean, we have freakin' Fairy Shrimp in our forests!

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