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Saturday, July 26, 2014
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Published: Friday, 3/30/2012

COMMENTARY

Lepidopterists pitch plan to enhance habitat

BY MATT MARKEY
OUTDOORS

They are planning construction of a big, wide road through western Lucas County. However, you won't see any orange barrels, no traffic jams, and no dump trucks lined up, filled with steamy asphalt.

This project involves a superhighway for butterflies where the top speed is likely a casual and fanciful 5 mph.

There is a cadre of lepidopterists organizing the effort, and hoping to recruit an army of associates to assist in the undertaking. They want the rare and endangered butterflies that are found in the Oak Openings region to have a broad, spacious, and welcoming passageway throughout the area.

READ MORE at Matt Markey's Outdoors blog

"We want to prepare a corridor for them, so as they move about they will find friendly surroundings," said Jackie Riley of Toledo, a member of the Ohio Lepidopterists. "Since the rare butterflies found in the nature preserves in the area are always on the move, it is very important that the properties adjacent to the preserves offer them good habitat, as well."

The Ohio Lepidopterists, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, the Ohio Biological Survey, and Metroparks are teaming up to hold a butterfly identification and monitoring workshop on Saturday at the Manor House at Wildwood Metropark at 5100 W. Central Ave.

The event runs from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and includes sessions on identification training, photographing insects, the butterfly life cycle, gardening to attract butterflies, and information on how to establish and monitor a transect. There will also be books, kits for monitoring, specimens, and posters for sale.

Riley said the workshop, which rotates between various locations around the state annually, has already attracted an overflow crowd in preregistration. She said the session is designed to assist the novice who just has a thirst for more knowledge about butterflies, up to the serious lepidopterists interested in the long-term monitoring of butterfly populations and movements.

"We really want to see anyone and everyone get involved in the stewardship aspect of this," she said. "It is especially important for residents in the Oak Openings area to be aware of these rare butterflies and the types of host plants they prefer."

Riley said in the past butterfly handbooks have been distributed to property owners in the corridor surrounding the Oak Openings area and throughout the region that loosely connects Oak Openings with the Kitty Todd Preserve north of Old State Line Road.

Oak Openings and the Kitty Todd Preserve are home to the federally endangered Karner blue butterfly, which was reintroduced to the area in 1998 after being extirpated. You will also find more than 100 state-listed rare plants in the ecologically unique region, including prickly-pear cactus, yellow-fringed orchid, cross-leaved milkwort, grass-pink orchid, and Skinner's foxglove.

The Karner blue butterfly is certainly not the only butterfly found in the Oak Openings-Kitty Todd corridor, but it is the poster child for the efforts to establish and preserve ideal habitat. It gets its name from Karner, N.Y, where it was first identified more than 100 years ago. It has a wing span of about an inch, with the males wings marked with a distinct silvery or dark blue tone.

The Karner blue was once found in thin ribbon of suitable environment that stretched across 10 states and one Canadian province, but the loss of its preferred habitat of oak savannas and pine barrens has caused it to disappear from half of that range.

The local effort is one to prevent that from happening here. Riley said she has been encouraged by the response of the casual butterfly watchers and the newest converts to the cause.

"People seem to love to get involved in this," she said. "They want to tell you about the butterflies they have seen, and they want to know more about the butterflies that we are trying to protect.

They want to know where to buy the host plants that the butterflies need to survive."

She urged individuals in the Oak Openings region and throughout the area to get involved, stressing the bigger the army, the better. Teams of butterfly monitors are essential to detecting long-term trends when certain species are threatened, noticing population changes, and identifying colonies of subtropical butterflies.

See The Blade Outdoors Blog for more information and a number of links that will connect you with the organizations involved in the effort.

Survey says

The Ohio Division of Wildlife encourages anglers, hunters, and trappers to visit www.wildohio.com to take a new online survey. They are seeking feedback on the new license sales system and on the automated game-check system. Take the survey at the ODNR's website: www.ohiodnr.com.

Fulton pheasants

The Fulton County chapter of Pheasants Forever will hold its annual banquet and auction on April 14th at Founders' Hall at the Sauder Museum complex outside Archbold. For more information contact Scott Schnitkey at 419-551-1969.

Ohio taxidermy display

The Ohio Taxidermy Association will open its wildlife display to the public on Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m. The event takes place at the Mid-Ohio Conference Center, 890 W. 4th St. in Mansfield. Admission is $3 and the show will feature several hundred unique mounts.

Contact Blade Outdoors Editor Matt Markey at: mmarkey@theblade.com or 419-724-6068



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