I’ve been seeing a lot of this plant while out on my hikes in recent weeks; it’s kind of hard to miss.
Named for its tough stem, this plant has excellent posture. Its flowers of are like purple torches in the late Summer landscape and when blooming next to Goldenrod, it creates a picturesque scene.
This plant prefers to grow in areas such as meadows and pastures where the soil is fertile and conditions are moderately damp. I photographed these at Canalway Center and along the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath.
Ironweed has a highly visible dark red stem and grows over seven feet tall. It is widely branched at the top. Loose clusters of quarter-inch flowers give it a burst of vibrant color.
Attached to the stem are lance-shaped, pointed leaves that have short downy hairs on the lower surface.
This species flowers in July to September. Not only is it nice to look at, it is also an excellent nectar plant and is visited by many species of butterflies and bees.
Third Eye Herp
While fishing in the Ohio & Erie Canal this Summer I caught a few of these fish. They are of a silvery color with green or brown shades along their back and dark lateral bars along their sides.
White Crappies can be found in large rivers, reservoirs and lakes. They are more tolerant of murky waters than their relatives, Black Crappies. As adults, this species is generally about 9–10 inches in length.
These fish are neither cruise- nor ambush-feeding strategists. Instead, they swim intermittently and only search for prey when stationary. This strategy is energetically favored to reduce search time for this species.
As juveniles, they feed primarily on small invertebrates during their first year of life. As adults, they are largely minnow feeders, though their diet can vary based on location and food availability.
White Crappies are native to the Great Lakes, Hudson Bay, and the Mississippi River basins expanding from New York and southern Ontario westward to South Dakota and southward to Texas.
These fish were a fun summertime encounter in Northeast Ohio.
Third Eye Herp
While hiking at Hinckley Reservation, these eye-catching fungi attracted my attention. Their yellow-orange vase-shaped caps were hard to miss on the dark forest floor.
This is among the most popularly eaten species of wild mushrooms. There are many species of edible Chanterelle; the most well known is the Golden Chanterelle Mushroom.
They are often bright in color and funnel-shaped. On the underside, most species have gill-like ridges that run almost all the way down to their stem.
Chanterelles tend to grow in clusters in mossy coniferous forests. In addition to North America, they can be found in Eurasia and Africa.
They are mycorrhizal, which means they have a beneficial, symbiotic relationship with the roots of trees. In Ohio they tend to fruit anywhere from June to September.
The flavor of Chanterelles is often described as fruity or peppery. They’re excellent with meats, fish, or as an entrée topping. They’re also very popular with eggs or as a filling in crêpes.
Third Eye Herp
This is a cool spider that I often find while exploring the edges of ponds and canals. It is easy to identify because of their distinctive pattern of two white stripes on their front section and 12 white spots on their abdomen. They are named for the six black spots on their underside.
This species is active in the daytime and waits patiently for hours at a time for prey to come by. Not only can it walk on water, but it can also dive several inches underwater to catch food, which consists mostly of insects, small fish and tadpoles.
These creatures can walk on water using the properties of surface tension and by spreading their body weight equally where each of their eight legs contacts the water. This arachnid can stay submerged under the water for 30 minutes or more. The hairs on their bodies trap air and provide a protective “diving suit.”
Spider legs have delicate hairs called trichobothria that respond to vibrations carried through either the air or the water. These hairs provide information to the spider about the presence and location of prey. Six-spotted Fishing Spiders also have excellent eyesight.
This species belongs to a group known as Nursery Web Spiders. A female will lay her eggs and wrap them in a silken sac. She will carry this sac around in her jaws for protection until the eggs are ready to hatch. Then she builds a nursery tent with silk which she guards to protect her spiderlings against attackers.
The Six-spotted Fishing Spider is a truly fascinating creature that often goes about its life unnoticed.
Third Eye Herp