Western Mosquitofish


This small fish is dull grey or brown in color with no bars of bands on the sides, it has a rounded tail and an upturned mouth. This species is not native to Ohio, but was stocked in western Lucas County in 1947 and now lives in scattered locations throughout the state. Females (2 to 3 inches long) are two or three times larger than males and more stocky.

Western Mosquitofish_7522

The Western Mosquitofish feeds primarily on zooplankton and invertebrate prey at the top of the water column. As its name implies, one of its main food items is mosquito larvae. It is well known for its high feeding capacity. Consumption rates of 42–167% of their body weight per day have been documented.

Western Mosquitofish_7051

Because of their reputation as mosquito control agents, they have been stocked routinely and indiscriminately in temperate and tropical areas around the world. In the United States the first known introductions of mosquitofish took place in the early 1900s. It is commonly found in Lake Erie and even sold as a bait fish.

Western Mosquitofish_7525

They prefer ponds or very slow flowing streams with clear water and abundant aquatic vegetation. This species is one of the few freshwater fish species that bears live young. The Western Mosquitofish can spawn from May through September with females carrying an average of 40 young.

Third Eye Herp

Vians Flea Beetle

Vians Flea Beetle 019

On a warm Winter day I saw this cool creature (with a drop of water on its back) hanging out in my rock garden. ”Flea Beetle” is a general name applied to the small, jumping beetles of the leaf beetle family. They are similar to other leaf beetles, but characteristically have hindlegs that are greatly enlarged. These oversized femora allow for the springing action of these insects when disturbed.

Vians Flea Beetle 018

While they can jump, they also walk normally and fly. Many are attractively colored; dark, shiny and often metallic colors prevail. They tend to be small, and at one quarter of an inch, this is one of the larger species.

Vians Flea Beetle 024

The Vians Flea Beetle is found in the United States from the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic coast. In Canada the species ranges from the Northwest Territories to Nova Scotia and areas southward.

Vians Flea Beetle 031

During adverse weather conditions (like rain) they seek shelter in the soil. Flea beetles overwinter as adults in leaf litter, hedgerows, windbreaks and wooded areas. In early spring, the adults become active again.

Vians Flea Beetle 038

Pink Smartweed is their most common food plant, but Vians Flea Beetles have also been collected on members of other plant families too. It was a nice Winter surprise to encounter this tiny, but cool creature.

Third Eye Herp

White-breasted Nuthatch


This bird is easy to identify by watching its behavior; it has the odd habit of creeping down tree trunks headfirst. All other species of bark-foraging birds search for food by climbing trees upwards. This gives the White-breasted Nuthatch a distinct advantage, allowing it the visual perspective of finding prey that other birds may miss.


This is a stocky bird, with a large head, virtually no neck, a short tail, powerful bill and strong feet. The upperparts are pale blue-gray, and the face and underparts are white. The species has a black crown and nape that contrast with a white face and breast.


It’s common name stems from its habit of cramming nuts and acorns into tree bark and then hammering away at them with their sharp bill, until the nut splits to “hatch” out the seed inside.


They store a variety of seeds and nuts in bark crevices, returning later to eat their stockpile of food. These birds are also  frequent visitors to backyard feeders.


White-breasted Nuthatches reside in mature woods and woodland edges. They’re particularly associated with deciduous forests, consisting of Maple, Hickory, Basswood and Oak.


It’s call of Yenk-yenk-yenk-yenk sounds like a small nasal voice – or like a bath toy rapidly squeezed.


At this time of year I often see them in Brecksville Reservation in small flocks of Black-capped Chickadees and Tufted Titmice. One explanation for these flocks is that the birds gain protection from predators by the vigilance of the other birds.


A group of nuthatches are collectively known as a “jar” of nuthatches.

Third Eye Herp

Crowded Parchment Fungus

Crowded Parchment Fungus_2875

While taking a Winter walk in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, this bright fungus caught my eye.

Crowded Parchment Fungus_0022

Its distinguishing features include orange coloration and often being found crowded on the dead twigs, branches and stumps of deciduous trees from July through January.

Crowded Parchment Fungus_0019

The fruiting bodies of look like fans, with tiny ripple patterns on the them. They are about three quarters of an inch wide, project sideways from branches, logs, and stumps, and may fuse together, side by side.

Crowded Parchment Fungus_0021

This is the most common parchment fungus and unlike mushrooms, it grows without a stalk. The key role of these forest recyclers is to break down dead matter and return nutrients to the soil to become available to plants once again.

Crowded Parchment Fungus_0023

The function of fungi in breaking down dead wood is crucial. Wood is so tough that animals cannot digest it. However, certain fungi are able to biodegrade it using enzymes, allowing the vast amounts of dead wood in woodlands to be broken down.

Third Eye Herp