Flora and fauna of the Athens County area, and occasionally habitats outside Ohio. Subject matter will consist of both interpretive material and taxonomic issues in plant and animal identification.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Lake Katharine State Nature Preserve

Kind of gives you that feel of the tropics doesn't it? That's to be expected when you are underneath the magnificent Magnolias of Lake Katherine. I joined Rick Gardner, Andrew Gibson, Steve McKee, Dave Minney, Jim Mason, and several others for an in depth tour of the preserve.

This is the Umbrella Magnolia, Magnolia tripetala. Notice how the leaves taper down to a fine point at the base.

The leaves of Big-leaf Magnolia, Magnolia macrophylla, come to a more abrupt end at the base. They are lobed or cordate at the bottom. They are also white underneath.

It was too late to catch either in bloom, but here's what you're missing. Big-leaf Magnolia can have showy flowers 8-12 inches wide. It's extremely rare in Ohio to find both species growing side by side.

I arrived before anyone else, but sitting next to the parking lot to greet me was this Banded Hairstreak, Satyrium calanus.

You wouldn't expect the group to stop and look at any ordinary clover, and ordinary it is not. This is Running Buffalo Clover, Trifolium stoloniferum. When you think of clover, you probably picture Red, White, Alsike, Sweet White, Sweet Yellow, and so on. These are alien species introduced for greening purposes, reclamation, soil enrichment, honey production, etc. Running Buffalo is native.

Being June, we've already missed the blooming time. I'm posting it anyway because it's a new species for me. The flower is white. If they are pink, you may have the even rarer Buffalo Clover, T. reflexum. Running Buffalo Clover is rare to endangered throughout its range.  We are starting to find more and more of it in Ohio, but make no mistake, it's still rare. Studies show it may actually benefit from disturbed habitats. We certainly have plenty of that in Ohio. Look for it on the edge of clearings, on logging roads, and hiking trails.

Poke  Milkweed, Asclepias exaltata. It may not be as showy as some of the other Milkweeds, but it stands tall in deciduous forests. So look for it in woodlands, not open fields. The large leaves are opposite and numerous along the plant, with an almost Pawpaw or Pokeweed look to them.

A terminal umbrella like cluster of flowers droop downward, (an umbel). This is a two colored species. The back reflexed petals are green, and the front hood petals are white.

Wild Onion, Allium canadense, another species that was past its peak blooming time.

Honewort, Cryptotaenia canadensis. This is a species of wet to mesic soil sites. The small white flowers may look a bit like Aniseroot or Sweet Cicely, but the leaflets are in threes. Honewort is a member of the Wild Carrot family. Things don't have to be big and showy like a Magnolia to catch my eye.

Speaking of small, there were plenty of invertebrates grabbing my attention as well. While traveling through a sedge swamp, this little inchworm called the 3-spotted Filip, Heterophleps triguttaria, was quite abundant.

Lots of moths were flying in the swamp. This is one of the Deltoid Noctuids. They are called that because of their triangular shape when at rest. This group of owlet moths also have large upturned palps on the face. I tell people to recognize the group by looking for the 'poodle outline' on the wings. Getting them to species is another story. This is Chytolita petrealis, the Stone-winged Owlet. Notice how distinct the lines and spots are. On a similar looking species, the Morbid Owlet, all the markings are faint.

None of these moths posed long enough for more than one shot. Hmm, I seem to say that a lot. You'll notice the same poodle outline in the wings. What's missing are the rows of dots. That makes this a close relative in the genus Zanclognatha. This moth is too worn for me to go further with a name. Still, like I said, I don't just go after the bright and showy. These brown moths are the ones that most people just ignore.

While this is common everywhere I go, you just don't see many purple damselfly species. Look for the Violet Dancer, Argia fumipennis, along any open water area.

I first saw this at Gallagher Fen last year, and here it is at Lake Katherine. This is the blue form female of the Blue-tipped Dancer, Argia tibialis. Most female damselflies are not this brightly colored.

I continue to shoot Harvestmen or Daddy Long-legs in hopes of putting names to them all. The more I learn, the more I realize you can't do them by photos. They require dissection, ugh! I don't mind that at all, just not sure I want to go that in depth. Here is a dead one being enveloped by fungi. I may have to go back and put this one on my zombie post.

While exploring some sandstone overhangs, I noticed a couple of these "liquid drops" hanging from a web. Not liquid at all, but a spider egg case suspended on a silk thread.

Searching the web to see who they belonged to, there was an Orchard Spider, Leucauge venusta. These white, green, and yellow spiders are common in most woodlands. Turns out, there was a second web behind that belonged to the egg layer, not the Orchard Spider. Richard Bradley said it is indeed Theridiosoma gemmosum. Jim was right.

Thanks to those with a flashlight, or I never would have spotted this guy. Sitting on the sandstone conglomerate was this beetle. The thorax and elytra are covered in bumps, and it looks like a moving rock when it walks. This Tenebrionid is known as the Forked Fungus Beetle, Bolitotherus cornutus. It feeds on fungus and carries spores from one mushroom to another. The two horn like projections make this a male. These beetles may be brown or black.

Feeding on bracken fungi was this large showy beetle. Once again, the second I approached, off he went. The camera and I must be a bit intimidating. When you are hiking with a group that is on the move, you don't have time to sneak up and wait. Get it while you can, and catch up to the crowd. This is a Pleasing Fungus Beetle. There are two species with the same orange black pattern. Since there are no rows of small pin-point punctures on the wings, this is Megalodacne heros.

Finally, a critter that cooperated! This little micro is called an Ermine Moth, Yponomeuta multipunctella. The family is named for this genus, and multipunctella means 'many spots'. Look at the top of the moth (which is really the wing bottoms.) There are two rows of parallel black dots. Use this to separate it from other similar ermine moths. These  also look like Ethmia moths. Those species have black streaks in their wings, not just dots. Ethmia moths hold their antennae down, Ermine moths hold their antennae up in the air.

Climbing through, and feeding on the False Nettle, Boehmeria cylindrica, was this brightly marked spiny caterpillar. False Nettle, as well as Stinging Nettle are the food plants for the Red Admiral Butterfly, Vanessa atalanta.

Always on the lookout for new galls, these fuzz balls on the back of a Grape leaf have me stumped. I think they are Phylloxera insects, aphid relatives. We'll see if I can get that confirmed.

After close to 5 hours of hiking, I was getting pretty wiped out. As we rested around the dam, insects started seeking us out. Pararchytas decisus is a type of Tachinid Fly. Tachinids can be recognized by the spiny pin cushion butt. These and several species of Flesh Flies will commonly land on you. Both groups are caterpillar parasites, so they won't bite like Deer Flies. They are slow moving upon landing, so you can just pick it up and move it off you if such things make you squeamish.

When you're hot it's not unusual for butterflies to land on your skin. Here is a Great Spangled Fritillary looking to suck a little salt from your sweat.

These small creeping plants growing among the true mosses are commonly called Spikemoss. They have scale like leaves, and produce spores. This one is Selaginella opoda, the Meadow Spikemoss. Considered fern allies, they are taxonomically closer to Lycopodium and Club Mosses.

There were some interesting ferns as well. A new one for me was Narrow-leaved Spleenwort, Diplazium pycnocarpon. This was down in the mesic to wet portions of the woods. For some reason it reminded me of a chain fern without the center wings or lobes. Up close it does resemble Christmas Fern. The pinna are entire, and lack the raised portion that Christmas fern has near the base.

Growing on the rock faces was another new one for me, the Mountain Spleenwort, Asplenium montanum. While there is a slight resemblance to Fragile Fern, the leaves of this species remind me of Parsley.

Growing alongside the Mountain Spleenworts were these young Lobed Spleenworts, Asplenium pinnatifidum. While I have illustrated this before in my fern posts, I learned something new about these two species.

When you get Mountain and Lobed growing together, this is often the result. This is Trudell's Spleenwort, Asplenium x trudelli, a hybrid between the previous two species. Believe me, had it not been pointed out to me, I would have never been able to tell.

When on a hike with Rick, you know darn well we will do sedges. Here is a taste of some of them. I mentioned in my last post that we did 33 at Wahkeena. Today we did, um, well... I lost count! I did pick up more new ones. Before summer is over I should have up at least three posts on sedges. That means I'll lock myself away for days on end trying to figure out how to describe them all. This picture shows some of the showier species. In my Carex world, showy simply means easier ones.

For those who can't wait and just have to know right now, here they are from left to right.
louisianica, grayii, lurida, intumescens, typhina, squarrosa, alubatescens, vesicaria, tuckermanii, crinita, debilis.


  1. Excellent, Dennis! It was great to get out in the field with you again and I'm happy to see you're feeling and doing better. Lake Katherine is a magical place indeed and I think you proved that quite well with this post. Let's stay in touch and get back out soon.

    PS can't wait for the sedge posts and your unique spin on them :)

  2. Beautiful photos and informative post, as always, Dennis. Lake "Kate" is a treasure trove of biodiversity. Say, I wonder if that spider egg case might not be that of Theridiosoma gemmosum (common name unknown?). I see something very similar at Cedar Bog and other moist woods, and Rich Bradley once identified one for as that.

  3. Jim, could be, it does match. I just don't know how many spiders have similar egg sacs. I will add that the Orchard Spider had a nice web sitting DIRECTLY in front of an older web that was a bit torn and worn. The eggs could be from the other web.