Friday, July 22, 2011

A Habitat Hero

This is quite possibly my favorite story about Ohio habitats. It is the story of hope.

The Swamp Metalmark was a butterfly thought to be extirpated from Ohio. Since 1988 no one had seen this little creature, not much bigger than a copper colored penny.

One young man hadn't given up hope. Troy Shively was still looking for the metalmark, and his search took him to his own Grandfather's back yard. This swampy wetland had been untouched- and ironically, the last of Ohio's Swamp Metalmarks were hiding out in this fen.

A very special plant grows in that wetland beyond the Shively home. The Swamp Thistle is the only plant the Swamp Metalmark will lay their eggs upon and their caterpillars leave tell-tale signs in the leaves.

Swamp Thistle, Cirsium muticum is not a common plant. After all, nearly 95 percent of Ohio's wetlands have been drain; there just aren't that many swamps left for it to grow in.

Coral Hairstreak and Swamp Metalmark - photo by George Sydlowski

Nature photographer George Sydlowski captured these crisp images on our recent trip to visit the Swamp Metalmarks with the Ohio Lepidopterists Butterfly Observer's Group. Swamp Metalmark was a "life butterfly" for everyone in the group, except Troy!

Swamp Metalmark- photo by George Sydlowski

This story had a happy ending. Unfortunately, too many of our habitat stories do not. Hopefully our little copper beauties will live long and prosper- thanks to Grandpa Shively's wisdom for protecting their habitat.

1 comment:

  1. That is a great story--and so nice to have a happy ending! Thanks for sharing.