Fall is here and with it comes Halloween decorations—bats being a common sight! Bats have a spooky and somewhat sinister reputation, but they play critical roles within our economies and our ecosystems.
Bats are from the order Chiroptera, stemming from Greek origin meaning “hand-wing” to describe the mammal’s wings. Chiroptera has two suborders: the Megabats (Megachiroptera) and the Microbats (Microchiropetera). Megabats consist of a single family: the flying foxes and their fruit and flower-eating relatives. The megabats live in the tropics. Meanwhile, the microbats are composed of the rest of the 17 bat families. Unlike their megabat cousins, microbats dine on insects.
Bats’ social structures are very fascinating as most live in large groups called colonies which can reach to over a million bats. Bats are the only mammals that fly. Many use echolocation, a method of making sounds that bounce back from objects to help with navigation and hunting. Bats tend to fly under the radar since they are creatures of the night, and in most cases provide many benefits:
The need to protect these creatures is more evident than ever. There are lots of threats that bats face, including disease, windmill turbines, roost destruction, habitat loss, and changes in climate. In the United States and Canada, white-nose syndrome (WNS) is impacting bats. WNS is a disease that affects hibernating bats and is caused by a fungus (Pseudogymnoascus destructans). The disease causes bats to become more active during hibernation and burn up the fat they need to survive the winter. Researchers think that WNS has been in North America since 2006.
What can you do to learn more? Come join Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District for a bat walk program on October 25, 2022 from 8PM-9PM at Miller Ecological Park (755 Miller Road, Lebanon, OH 45036). Learn about bat biology and conservation while dispelling myths of this beautiful creature! Then take a quiet guided walk through the park to see the bat houses and watch for any bat activity. This program is free but registration at warrenswcd.com is encouraged.
For more information regarding bats, Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District programs, and/or technical assistance on water or soil questions, call our offices at 513-695-1337.
North American Bat Monitoring Program - https://www.nabatmonitoring.org/
White Nose Syndrome Response Team - https://www.whitenosesyndrome.org/
Smithsonian Bat Facts - https://www.si.edu/spotlight/bats/batfacts
Celebrating the Special Powers of Bats - https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2021/10/27/celebrating-special-powers-bats
Ohio Bat Working Group – https://u.osu.edu/obwg/
In Warren County, Ohio storm drains and yard drains lead directly to creeks and drinking water reservoirs with no treatment. Water conditioners, chlorine, bromine, algaecides, biocides, stabilizers, salts, and other chemicals used in pool and spa water are toxic to fish and other aquatic life and disrupt the natural balance within waterways.
Pool chemicals are prohibited by law from being discharged into storm drains or waterways. Allowable discharges include dechlorinated pool water that has no trace of chemicals. Pool filter backwash or saltwater pool discharges are prohibited in storm drains and drainage channels leading to streams.
How to Properly Drain Pool/Spa Water
For questions regarding Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District programs and/or technical assistance on water or soil questions, call our offices at 513-695-1337.
Ohio EPA: https://ohioepa.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/2295/~/discharging-swimming-pool-water-into-storm-sewers
Among the more popular and well-known fish of Ohio’s streams and rivers, there is one fish which lurks on the bottom, often regarded as “trash-fish” or even seen as invasive: suckerfish.
Suckerfish are a group of fish from the family Catostomidae which are native to the Ohio River watershed and live as bottom feeders, eating insects, mollusks, worms, and other aquatic invertebrates. They are migratory fish, moving upstream from large rivers and lakes into smaller streams to reproduce in the spring. During this time, they often form very large groups and can be seen traversing small creeks in late April and early May. There are many species of suckerfish native to Ohio such as the white sucker, quillback carp-sucker, and several species of redhorse; many of these species can reach sizes upwards of 10lbs.
Most sucker species are very intolerant of pollution and sedimentation and as such are good indicator species for river and stream quality. Because of their sensitivity to water degradation, they have declined or even been extirpated from watersheds across the country. The longnose sucker is listed as endangered in Ohio, and the river redhorse and quillback carp-sucker are threatened in parts of their range. Despite this, many individuals see them as invasive and detrimental to the waterways. This is likely due to their resemblance of non-native carp species, such as the bighead carp and grass carp, which are considered invasive in Ohio. Because of this negative perception, many native suckers are killed by fishermen aiming to improve stream health by removing destructive species.
Although they are shunned by most of the fishing community, some fishermen are beginning to embrace the sucker and other “rough-fish” by fishing for them. A popular fishing method for suckers is to use a small hook baited with a live worm resting on the bottom of the stream and waiting for the school to pass overhead (Unionsportsmen.org).
Despite their reputation, suckers are a beneficial native fish and even help fight invasive species in some parts of their range. In Lake Erie, sucker species such as the bigmouth buffalo and redhorse are some of the only species to prey on the highly invasive zebra mussel, which clog pipes and push out native species (biokids.umich.edu). The river redhorse in Missouri is also noted to readily prey upon the Asiatic clam, which outcompetes native bivalves in the region (mdc.gov). Suckers are also very important prey species in their ecosystems, providing food for species such as largemouth bass, northern pike, herons, and bald eagles.
North American suckerfish are often misunderstood and sometimes vilified for their resemblance to some less-desirable fish species. Despite this negative reputation, they are very beneficial and add to the biodiversity of our pristine rivers and streams in Ohio.
For more information regarding aquatic wildlife, Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District programs, and/or technical assistance with water or soil questions, call 513-695-1337.
Written By Harrison Shupe, Warren Co SWCD Intern
What does it mean to make your home green for stormwater? Green stormwater practices around your home use plants, soils, and other elements to manage water quality and mimic the natural water cycle. Green stormwater practices retain, detain, filter, harvest, and infiltrate stormwater runoff to create healthier urban environments.
Incorporating green infrastructure provides many benefits such as improving water quality by removing pollutants, habitat preservation for native plants and animals, decreasing urbanization stream impacts, and overall enhancement of neighborhood aesthetics. The following is a list of management practices that landowners can incorporate on their own property to help control and keep stormwater clean. (Sources: Penn State Extension, United States Environmental Protection Agency)
For more information regarding green infrastructure for the home, Warren Co SWCD programs, and/or technical assistance with water or soil questions, visit http://warrenswcd.com or call our offices at 513-695-1337.
These days it seems like we hear of a new invasive species daily. Whether it is a plant or animal, invasive species can wreak havoc on our local environment and economy. Lesser celandine (Ficaria verna) is an invasive plant that doesn’t look harmful, but in fact outcompetes our native spring wildflowers and creates a monoculture affecting insects, animals, and thus the ecosystem. It is found commonly throughout Southwest Ohio including Warren County.
Lesser celandine, a Spring ephemeral, was first noted in Pennsylvania in the late 1860’s. It was introduced as an ornamental and eventually started popping up in native areas. A member of the buttercup family, lesser celandine is a perennial flowering herbaceous plant. The leaves are a shiny, dark green kidney shape with wavy edges. The attractive flowers are bright yellow with 7 to 12 petals.
Lesser celandine is low growing, often forming dense ground coverage once established. The plant’s shoots typically emerge as early as January with flowers beginning to bloom in March and April. By June, the vegetation has died back and the plant becomes dormant.
The reproduction system of lesser celandine makes this plant a difficult one to control. It primarily reproduces through bulblets and underground tubers. The tiny bulblets are attached to the leafstalks. Underlying each plant is a mass of finger-shaped tubers that are produced by the roots. Disturbances by animals and environmental factors are what spreads the bulblets and tubers. Since lesser celandine is often found along streams and river ways, flood events play a major role in its spread.
Replanting the area with native alternatives is a great way to help control soil disturbance while replenishing an important nectar source for insects. Lesser celandine is often confused with a desirable native wetland plant called marsh marigold (Caltha palustris). While they have similar leaf shapes and color, marsh marigold flowers only have five to nine petals and it does not produce tubers or bulblets.
Control and management of lesser celandine is very difficult and should be targeted over several years. For small infestations, lesser celandine may be pulled up by hand or dug up using a hand trowel or shovel. It is very important to remove all bulblets and tubers. If mechanical removal is to continue after dieback of the plants, individual plants or clumps will need to be marked with some sort of stakes or flagging because it will be impossible to relocate the plants otherwise. Mechanical control is very difficult for large infestations in high-quality natural areas. If choosing to control chemically (glyphosate, 2,4-D, MCPP, MCPA, dicamba, or triclopyr), you must follow label requirements. Higher control (90%-95%) has been found if spraying is done twice during the early and mid-flowering (up to 50% flower) stages over two years.
Check out native plant retailers for possible alternatives. Some suggested alternatives include wild ginger (Asarum canadense), bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), twinleaf (Jeffersonia diphylla), cutleaf toothwort (Cardamine concatenate), dutchman’s breeches (Dicentra cucullaria), virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) and golden ragwort (Packera aurea). While the lifecycle of lesser celandine may be short, its early emergence and ability to grow and spread in a variety of habitats make it an aggressive invasive species to look out for.
Keep yourself familiar with these threats to help prevent further spread by visiting the Ohio Invasive Plants Council. For more information regarding growing native plants, Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District programs, and/or technical assistance on water or soil questions, call our offices at 513-695-1337.
Buckeye Yard and Garden Line, Lesser Celandine: Greater Problem by Joe Boggs
Don’t Be Deceived by This Beguiling Springtime Plant
Warren County SWCD Staff Blog
A blog to keep you informed on all the latest news at Warren County SWCD and in the conservation world.