Smallmouth Bass

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While exploring a creek and looking for cool creatures, I managed to capture a couple examples of this fine fish.

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As far as game fishing goes, Smallmouth Bass are sometimes overshadowed by their Largemouth counterparts, but they are still easily one of the most popular sportfish species in North America.

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Smallmouth Bass have a slender, but muscular body, making them very powerful swimmers. They are found in clearer water than the Largemouth Bass, especially in streams, rivers and the rocky areas and stumps and also sandy bottoms of lakes and reservoirs.

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This fish typically ranges in length from 12 to 15 inches and weight from 1 to 2 pounds. However, it can reach 24 inches and 10 pounds. Female Smallmouth Bass are usually larger than males.

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The Smallmouth Bass primarily eats crayfish and other large aquatic invertebrates, but it will also feed on a small fish and flying insects that fall on the water’s surface. They often hang out near underwater structures, such as fallen trees, waiting for food to come by.

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In terms of fish identification, the main difference between Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass is just that, their mouths. The mouth of the Smallmouth Bass is large, but only extends to approximately the middle of the eye. The mouth of the Largemouth Bass extends easily past the eye.

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This was my first time ever catching this neat species and it made for an awesome time while out and about.

Third Eye Herp

Clymene Moth

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I saw this cool creature while hiking in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It is noted for the striking upside-down cross pattern on its forewings. Because of this design, some people refer to it as the “Crusader Moth.”

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This is a member of the Tiger Moth family (as is the Woolly Bear/Isabella Tiger Moth). Typically it inhabits deciduous forests and the fields adjacent to them where their black, bristly larvae feed on a wide variety of plants.

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It may be fitting that the Clymene Moth looks like a Star Trek badge, because it boldly goes everywhere, day and night. Unlike the nocturnal habits of most moths, it does not shy away from sunshine. But like other moths, it is attracted to lights at night.

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The two smooth black antennae allow them to sense and smell the species in their area. Like like other moths, they communicate through pheromones and chemical smells. With a wingspan of 1-1/2 to 2 inches, this is not an especially large moth.

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The Clymene Moth is native to eastern North America. Adults seem to prefer moist areas like wetlands, where they visit flowers and use their long proboscises (tongues) to drink nectar. I most often find it in wooded areas adjacent to creeks.

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This is always a neat insect to encounter during the summer months, when it is most active.

Third Eye Herp

Dame’s Rocket

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This non-native species is hard to ignore. It has even established itself on our backyard. Dame’s Rocket, also known as Dame’s Violet and Mother-of-the-evening, was introduced as an ornamental around the time of European settlement.

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Dame’s Rocket bears loose clusters of attractive, fragrant, pinkish-purple to white four-petaled flowers on two-to-four foot stems. Its leaves are arranged alternately on the stem and are slightly hairy and lance-shaped with toothed margins.

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This plant’s habitat includes open woodlands, prairies, roadsides, ditches and other disturbed areas. The plant’s three-month-long blooming period and ability to set abundant seed have contributed to its spread. A single plant produces up to 20,000 seeds.

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Dame’s Rocket is often confused with Garden Phlox, because the flower colors, clustered blooms and bloom time are similar. However, Garden Phlox has flowers with five petals (Dame’s Rocket has four).

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Although problematic because is displaces native plants and it considered an invasive species (five states have placed legal restrictions on it), this member of the Mustard Family is a food source for caterpillars as well as a nectar source for bees, butterflies, moths and hummingbirds.

Third Eye Herp

American Robin

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Although they are considered harbingers of Spring, many American Robins spend the whole winter in their breeding range. Because they spend more time roosting in trees and less time on the ground, you’re much less likely to see them.

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One of our most easily identified birds, this member of the Thrush Family is a large, sturdy songbird with long legs, a light yellowish bill and a long tail. It has an unstreaked, rusty-orange breast and a dark gray-brown back.

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They are a common sight in our yard, especially after cutting the lawn, when I often see them tugging earthworms out of the ground. They eat different types of food depending on the time of day: more earthworms in the morning and more fruit later in the day.

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The American Robin’s rich caroling is among the earliest bird songs heard at dawn in Spring and Summer, often beginning just before first light. This bird lives across North America and in parts of Central America. They can be found in open grassy areas, gardens and woodlands.

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This bird’s nest is a deep, sturdy cup of twigs, grasses and mud – usually positioned in the crotch of a tree or a branch fork. We had a nest in the shrubs in our front yard. The female typically lays four pale blue eggs and incubates them alone. Both parents feed the young.

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The American Robin is the state bird of Connecticut, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Third Eye Herp

Spined Oak Borer

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I found this creature in my backyard and was able to scrape it gently into a jar to examine and photograph this newly found “long-horned” beetle.

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This insect is about three-quarters of an inch long. It is brownish-yellow and mottled with dark spots. Like most long-horned beetles it has antenna longer than its body. It also has spiny projections on its antenna and on its femoral leg segments, accounting for its common name.

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Calling this little insect’s antennae “long” is an understatement; each extended, tapering antenna was twice as long as its body. Long-horned, for sure!

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There are more species of beetles than any other insect order – some sources claim a quarter of all named animal species are beetles. In the Long-horn Family there are nearly 300 genera and 1,200 species – and that’s just in North America.

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Spined Oak Borers occur from New York to Michigan and south to Florida. Adult have massive pinching mandibles that apparently are used to chew on dead branches of various hardwood trees, including oaks.

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This species lays its eggs under bark scales on dead tree limbs, after which the larvae spend their first year feeding just under the bark; during the second year, the larva migrate deeper into the dead wood, pupate, and eventually emerge as adults.

This was a super cool find that I didn’t have to go far to encounter.

Third Eye Herp