Thursday, August 2, 2012

Killdeer Plains

Today  we visited another prairie of sorts, in Wyandot County.  Killdeer Plains is part of the Sandusky Plains, which once encompassed much of the Marion and Upper Sandusky regions.

 Killdeer Plains is a designated Wildlife Area.  Not only does it offer vast expanses of grass and prairie forbs, it has a good bit of wetlands.  This makes it great for bird watching, with occasional sighting of Golden Eagles, to routine Short and Long-eared  Owls in the winter time. Now is the time to look for water fowl.

Dainty Sulphur,  Nathalis iole  
But today we were after butterflies!  Rare butterflies that are smaller than a dime, a southern species rarely seen in Ohio.  This year the Dainty Sulphurs are having a boom in their population.  One or two were seen a month ago, and now we have 20 or more flitting about the parking lot at the Sportsmen's Center.

Carpetweed,  Mollugo verticillata
This diminutive plant is the source of the "outbreak."  It is being used as host pant by the Dainty Sulphurs.  How did they ever find it?

This tiny Carpetweed, well... carpets the parking lot near the horse barn.  It would hardly catch the eye of a plant lover, but our friend Jim Davidson (butterflier extraordinaire) knew the plant was there. It has hosted Dainty Sulphurs in the past.

Dainty Sulpurs in tandem
Our Dainty Sulphurs were there all right. And they were doing what Dainty little boy and girl butterflies do.  They will soon be laying eggs in the Carpetweed, but it is doubtful they will "winter" through.  These species are southern beasties, after all.  We probably won't see them in Ohio until we have another record warm year- like next year perhaps?

And if you visit Killdeer for the butterflies, stop by the mudflats too.  Shorebird migration is in full swing and you might see some interesting species!

If you are looking for a quick sandwich and a drink, stop by Harpster, Ohio.  It is a short distance from Killdeer and my new "favorite" Ohio town.  We'll talk more of that soon.


  1. What an interesting post - the host plants usually get by me, and the fellows who seek it. I need to look more closely. Thanks.

  2. Hi Claudia-
    Host plants are key and a good introduction to botany. Often times caterpillars are easiest to identify by the host plant. Careful though, are they eating the plant (which indicates "host" or just passing though.
    Wagner's caterpillar book is a remarkable example of our need to look at host plants.

    Happy butterfly botanizing! Cheyl