Wavy-rayed Lampmussel

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While exploring a creek near Youngstown, Ohio, I came across this cool creature.

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The Wavy-rayed Lampmussel occurs in small-to-medium sized shallow streams in and near riffles with good current. It rarely occurs in rivers. Its substrate of preference is sand and/or gravel.

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Its shell color ranges from yellow to yellowish green with numerous thin, wavy green rays. It can reach four inches in width and can live up to 20 years. Like all mussels, this species filters water to find food, such as bacteria and algae.

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Mussels in general are rather sedentary, although they may move in response to changing water levels and conditions. Mussels insert their “foot” (seen here inside of shell) into the sand or gravel and pull themselves forward, inching their way along the creek bottom.

05 Lampsilis fasciola - Wavy-rayed Lampmussel

Belonging to a group known as bivalves, this mollusc is completely enclosed by a shell made of two valves. A hinge ligament joins the two halves of the shell together and large adductor muscles between the two valves hold them closed.

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Mussel larvae are parasitic and must attach to a fish host, where they consume nutrients from the fish body until they transform into juvenile mussels and drop off.

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The Wavy-rayed Lampmussel’s fish hosts are the Largemouth Bass and Smallmouth Bass. The presence of fish hosts is one of the key features for an area to support a healthy mussel population.

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In turn, mussels are ecological indicators. Their presence in a water body usually indicates good water quality.

Third Eye Herp

Nebraska Conehead

01 Nebraska Conehead 094

While hiking on the Buckeye Trail I came across this cool insect. The Nebraska Conehead is type of Katydid. Like other members of its family, males “sing” on warm summer nights.

02 Nebraska Conehead 095

Part of this insect is not very well named: While it is found in Nebraska, its range is much broader, extending southward to Mississippi and eastward to Maryland. The other part is indeed well named: A prominent, cone-shaped structure is its the head, which easily seen when looking at it up close.

03 Nebraska Conehead 061

This katydid feeds on the flowers as well as the foliage of woody plants. The call of the male sounds like “tsip-tsip,” a buzz-like sound repeated once every two seconds. This call is typically heard in daytime, but occasionally at night as well.

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It tends to spend its time facing head down more often than not, presumably prepared to execute its escape strategy – falling headfirst into the grass, where it will remain motionless to avoid detection.

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Nebraska Coneheads can found along roadsides, in weeds at the edges of fields and woods and in brushy ground cover in open woods. This is the first one I’ve ever seen, so it made for a great hike.

Third Eye Herp


01 Twinleaf_7234

This is a wildflower that I noticed not because of its blossom, but rather due to its fruit, which resembles a green acorn. I came across it last Summer and went back in April of this year to see its flowers.

02 Jeffersonia diphylla

Twinleaf’s large, conspicuous blooms feature eight snowy-white petals which drop within a day or so. This plant is a perennial and often forms small colonies.

03 Twinleaf_2241

This wildflower features long-stemmed, blue-green leaves up to 6 inches long, which are deeply divided into two lobes that give the appearance of being two separate leaves, hence the common name.

04 Twinleaf_7233

Its unusual seed pods are on stalks that have hinged lids that open to drop shiny, brown seeds for ants to scatter.

05 Twinleaf_2245

This showy wildflower’s scientific name, Jeffersonia diphylla, commemorates our third president, Thomas Jefferson, who was a great naturalist and once president of the American Philosophical Society, which by the late 1700’s was the country’s leading scientific organization.

06 Twinleaf_2243

Unlike many of Ohio’s Spring wildflowers, Twinleaf is not a true spring ephemeral, as its leaves remain green and actively produce chlorophyll throughout summer. It tends to grow in the rich, damp soils of deciduous forests.

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This neat plant is also known as Helmet Pod, Ground Squirrel Pea and is enjoyable to encounter on my northeast Ohio hikes.

Third Eye Herp

American Crow

01 American Crow_6552

This is a bird that we’ve been seeing with increasing frequency in our neighborhood. On trash day they are often waiting to tear open trash bags left by the street in search of food.

02 American Crow_6133

This is a sign of the bird’s intelligence. Neighborhoods provide a food source now only from garbage, but roadkills and lawns with worms and grubs are also food sources for this omnivorous bird.

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They are common sights in treetops, fields, and roadsides and in habitats ranging from open woods and empty beaches to town centers.

04 American Crow_7379

The American Crow’s flight style is unique – a patient, methodical flapping that is rarely broken up with glides. These birds congregate in large numbers (of a few hundred up to two million) in Winter to sleep in communal roosts.

05 American Crow_7355

Found throughout the United States, this is probably our most easily recognized bird. From beak to tail, an American crow measures 16–20 inches, almost half of which is tail.

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Crows have been noted for their brain power. Researchers have found that crows are not only playful and mischievous, but also smart. They use tools to solve complex problems and have the same brain-weight-to-body ratio as humans.

07 American Crow_7359

Flocks of crows are called “murders.” They typically make a loud “caw-caw” noise, particularly when disturbed or alarmed, but they are skilled mimics and can make vocalizations that sound like laughing, crying or a dog whining.

Third Eye Herp