Queen Anne’s Lace

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Queen Anne’s Lace earned its common name from a legend that tells of Queen Anne of England (1665-1714) pricking her finger and a drop of blood landing on white lace she was sewing.

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Its flowers are small and have five white petals that form umbrella-shaped clusters that are between two to five inches in diameter. Often, one to several dark purple flowers appear in the center of each cluster.

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Although common along North America’s roadsides, this plant is native to temperate regions of Europe and southwest Asia, and naturalized to North America and Australia.

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This flower’s Latin name is Daucus carota and domestic carrots are a cultivar of a subspecies of this plant. Early Europeans cultivated Queen Anne’s Lace and the Romans ate it as a vegetable. American colonists boiled and ate its taproots.

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Queen Anne’s Lace’s flower clusters start out curled up and eventually opens to allow pollination. Over time, as the flower matures, the cluster curls inward forming a cup-like bird’s nest when it goes to seed at the end of the season. This flower can grow to over three feet tall.

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Its feathery leaves resemble those of the domestic carrot. Queen Anne’s Lace is found in fields, meadows, waste areas, roadsides and disturbed habitats. It is very hardy and thrives in a dry environment.

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This plant is also known as Wild Carrot, Bishop’s Lace, Bee’s Nest, Bird’s Nest, Devil’s Plague, Lace Flower and Rantipole.

Third Eye Herp

Mining Bee

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We often think of bees as living in hives and cooperating with each other as “social insects.” But of the 20,000 species of bees in the world, 70% live underground and the large majority of those are small and solitary.

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This Mining Bee that I recently saw in Cuyahoga Valley National Park is an example of such a bee. There are 100 over species of this type of insect found in Ohio. These native pollinators are typically 1/4 – 3/4″ long, depending on the species, and most have banded abdomens.

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Females dig individual burrows several inches deep into the soil. They prefer to nest in well-drained soil that is lightly exposed to sunlight. Each excavation is about the diameter of a wooden pencil surrounded by a mound of loose soil particles.

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Though solitary and having no social structure, large numbers of females often locate their burrows in close proximity to one another giving the appearance of an organized colony.

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Mining Bees are not aggressive and their small stingers can’t penetrate far into the skin. More importantly, they are significant pollinators of spring-blooming food crops including apples, cherries and blueberries.

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These fine creatures are also known as Chimney Bees and Mustached Mud Bees.

Third Eye Herp

Variegated Darter

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While exploring a creek near Youngstown, Ohio, this month I came across one of these neat little fish for the first time. The Variegated Darter has large fins, a blunt nose and a mouth at the lower tip of its head. It typically grows to be about four inches long.

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This fish is an insectivore, mainly feeding on insect larvae, crustaceans and other invertebrates found on the bottom of the waterways that it resides in. The name “darter” refers to the way this fish moves. Rather than swimming like most fish, the darter darts forward and then sinks to the bottom.

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It does this because its air bladder is greatly reduced, interfering with the darter’s ability to stay afloat. This allows it to live in riffle areas where fish with air bladders would have the disadvantage of floating and being swept away by the current.

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When a darter comes to rest, its fins and tail prop up its body in sort of a tripod position with its head angled upward. The key identification characteristic of this fish is the four to six saddles along its back; three to four of these saddles tend to be dark and visible while the remaining saddles are not.

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Variegated Darters primarily live in larger streams with cobble, pebble, and gravel on the stream bed. In order to survive, they need waterways with high water quality. Due to this attribute, they are often viewed as an indicator of good water quality.

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This was a great and unexpected creature to come across while out and about.

Third Eye Herp

Eastern Spadefoot Toad

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This cool creature is interesting both in its physical appearance as well as its lifestyle. Eastern Spadefoot Toads spend most their life buried underground. Heavy rains, occurring at nearly any time of year, cause them to emerge in large numbers and congregate at breeding pools created by the rain.

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As far as appearance, they are known for their bright yellow eyes with elliptical pupils (like cat eyes) and the dark spade, which is used for digging, on each hind foot. As it digs, it wiggles its way underground, rear first. They are plump, with smooth skin and scattered, tiny warts. They range in color from olive to brown to black.

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Eastern Spadefoot Toads are found throughout the eastern United States and prefer dry habitats with sandy soils, but can be found in almost any habitat. Their ability to remain buried for long periods allows them to persist even in suburban areas.

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Spadefoots are rather small, growing to about 2-1/2 inches. Females can lay up to 2,500 eggs at once. Their tadpoles grow very quickly and can undergo metamorphosis in as few as 28 days.

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These amphibians are nocturnal foragers with a diet of invertebrates, insects, arachnids, termites, worms, and larvae of several insect species.

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Here in Ohio, the Eastern Spadefoot Toad is one of our most elusive animals. Though it generally digs several inches below the ground, it may drill down as deep as 8 feet.

Third Eye Herp