Friends of Ottawa NWR spent the summer tagging monarch butterflies here at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge. Friends staff, interns, volunteers, refuge staff, sponsors, and visitors were able to take part in this cool activity. 107 butterflies were tagged in total, although we raised 111 on site this year. Only two were wild caught and tagged compared to 75 last year.
Special thanks to Deb Tefft of Reno Beach for keeping us stocked with milkweed; Dana Bollin of Oak Harbor for tracking down eggs for us to raise; the Kemley Family of Curtice for bringing in eggs, cats, and milkweed for us to share with the public, and the Hayes Family of Oak Harbor for donating their last 7 tags for us to use!
If you'd like to check it out, our data is listed here: Monarch Tagging Data
One of my favorite parts of summer is the blooming of wildflowers. Colorful Black-eyed Susan's, pale blue Chicory, and so well-named Queen Anne's Lace line the ditches of NW Ohio. Such a perfect array of color against the storm clouds that seem to visit daily at Ottawa NWR.
I have many childhood memories of these wildflowers with my grandmother. Queen Anne's Lace, also called Wild Carrot, was my favorite find. The flowers are so delicate and lacy with a purplish center. We would always cut a few stems and take them back to grandma's kitchen where she would put just a little bit of food coloring in the vase. The next morning when we woke, the flowers would be bursting with color instead of their typical white. I thought it was magic!
The wildflowers you will see at Ottawa NWR are host plants to a variety of butterflies. Some caterpillars, like Monarchs, only eat a specific type of plant- milkweed. Queen Anne's Lace is host to eastern black swallowtails. This time of year, you can sometimes spot the striking caterpillars in the Lace stands.
Here is a list of butterflies and their host plants that you may find in this area. Be sure to look closely!
American Painted Lady: Daisy, Burdock
American Snout: Hackberry
Black Swallowtail: Parsley, Dill, Fennel
Clouded Sulphur: Clover
Cloudless Sulphur: Apple, Clover
Comma: Elm, Hops, Nettles
Common Buckeye: Snapdragon, Loosestrife
Eastern Tailed Blue: Clover, Peas
Gray Hairstreak: Mallow/Hollyhock, Clover, Alfalfa
Mourning Cloak: Willow, Elm, Poplar, Birch, Nettle
Peal Crescent: Aster
Question Mark: Hackberry, Elm, Nettle, Basswood
Red Admiral: Nettle
Red-spotted Purple: Black Cherry, Willow, Poplar
Silver-spotted Skipper: Black Locust, Wisteria
Spicebush Swallowtail: Spicebush, sassafras
Spring Azure: Dogwood, Viburnum, Blueberry, Spirea, Apple
Tawny Emperor: Hackberry
Tiger Swallowtail: Black Cherry, Birch, Poplar, WIllow
Viceroy: Willow, Poplar, Fruit Trees
Zebra Swallowtail: Pawpaw
Nature Tip: If you go looking for caterpillars in nettle patches, please wear protection!
In case you haven't heard about it yet, Amazon Smile is a great way for you to help Friends of Ottawa NWR, just by purchasing as usual on amazon.com! Give it a try- it is one of the easiest ways to help!
You've seen it in the news- Pokémon Go. For those of us who had no idea what this newest craze was, let me explain what I know, as relayed to me by our on-top-of-things Nature Store Manager, Catherine.
Pokémon Go is an augmented reality game, meaning that the app makes Pokémon appear in the real world through your smart phone. As you move around, more Pokémon appear. While it creeps some of us out that there may be invisible things floating around the Visitor Center, the game is showing some signs of being well-intended, as it is convincing people to move when they would be otherwise stationary.
There is something called a Pokéstop at the main entrance sign. Please, please, please, DO NOT stop on Route 2 to access the Pokéstop. Please catch your Pokémon at Ohio's only National Wildlife Refuge, but please play responsibly. Park in the circle near the brochures and walk to the sign.
Stay safe out there, folks. I'm going to try to not have nightmares of these things.
Have you heard of Woodie's Roost? This little traveled trail is most easily accessible from Magee Marsh Wildlife Area. Park in the Sportsmen's Migratory Bird Center parking lot and walk across the road to reach the trail head. This is a 1.6 mile loop and takes you through a variety of habitats- from marsh to woodlands.
For those looking for wood ducks, this is one of the best spots. The combined habitat is perfect for this unique species. Come at dawn or dusk for your best chance at seeing a wood duck.
We have been checking this spot for monarch butterflies as well. The trail is loaded with common milkweed, providing ample food for both adults and caterpillars.
Wow! Wine for Wildlife at Mon Ami was a fantastic way to help support Friends of Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge. We were so excited to have members of our group and our community join us. Our Friends group is absolutely devoted to helping Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge with all of its conservation, restoration, and educational goals- from providing funds for major purchases to operating the Nature Store. It was such a great feeling to have so many of our Refuge staff members support us at this event.
We just have to say a huge THANK YOU to Mon Ami Restaurant & Winery for having us! This was such a perfect venue for what will hopefully become an annual event. In case you missed it, we just posted a photo gallery on our website. You can view it here.
Thank you to all who enjoyed the event, sponsored a table, donated or purchased silent auction items. We truly could not do it without you!
"There was a snake in my yard and it rattled at me, so I killed it."
We have heard this same story quite frequently so far this spring. Chances of there being a rattlesnake in your backyard in NW Ohio are very slim, but there are some impostors out there that look and act similar to rattlesnakes.
EASTERN FOX SNAKES have been very active with the warm temperatures and are frequent visitors at the refuge and in backyards throughout the area. They will coil and vibrate their tails like a copperhead when threatened, but are nonvenomous and harmless to humans. They are a misunderstood snake with a similar pattern and coloring to their venomous cousins.
Fox snakes tend to be a docile species when left alone. You may remember that Ottawa NWR had an eastern fox snake for years as an education animal as he was not able to be released back to the wild. They are a species of concern in Ohio and listed as threatened in other states due to habitat loss and mistaken identity.
A gorgeous fox snake was spotted just off of the patio at the Ottawa NWR Visitor Center today and showed off to a small crowd by climbing on the rocks, drinking from puddles, and demonstrating its fine camouflage in the rock garden. Next time you see a snake, we ask that you admire it from a distance, and take a few pictures to share! From winged to furry to scaled, we love all critters here at Ottawa.
Walking through the South Woods at Ottawa NWR is always an interesting experience- but lately, the trails are bursting with Eastern Pondhawk Dragonflies!
These mid-sized dragonflies are quite appropriately named- eating anything they can catch from butterflies and other dragonflies to those pesky deer and horse flies!
Young males and females will be green (below) and males will turn blue with age (left). These dragonflies are usually found in ponds and slow-moving rivers.
Dragonflies spend part of their life cycle underwater in a state called a dragonfly nymph. They look really different from the dragonflies we see flying around!
Ottawa NWR is offering a series of summer camps this year for kids ages 8-12. Wetland creatures like these will be a topic to explore. If you can't make it, we also offer equipment to borrow including sweep nets to catch butterflies & dragonflies. Stop by or call the Visitor Center for more information (419-898-0014).
Marsh Mondays: June 20 - August 15
Aqua Adventure Day Camp: June 21 - 24
Refuge Ranger Day Camp: July 5 - 8 and August 9 - 12
Expedition Photography Day Camp: August 2 - 5