Melissa Martin

Melissa Martin, Ph.D.

Some nature lovers enjoy ladybugs. Some enjoy bees. And some enjoy butterflying. Creating a habitat for ladybugs, bees, and butterflies takes some knowledge, planning, digging, and planting. But it’s worth the work.

The Ohio Lepidopterists maintains a Collection of Ohio Butterflies and Moths at the OSU Museum of Biodiversity in Columbus. “The Ohio Lepidopterists (TOL) promote butterfly gardening in Ohio as a way of educating the public about the beauty and importance of Lepidoptera. The Butterfly Gardening Committee offers a chance for butterfly gardeners to share their gardens with others. Members of TOL are encouraged to register their butterfly gardens with TOL.” In 1993 The Ohio Lepidopterists formed a partnership with The Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Wildlife to promote and staff the Division's butterfly house at The Ohio State Fair. Visit www.ohiolepidopterists.org

In 1975, the Ohio government selected the ladybug as Ohio's official insect. Actually, what many people call a ladybug is really a ladybird beetle – as true bugs are in a totally different order of insects than beetles. Who knew? Ladybird beetles exist in all of Ohio's 88 counties. According to the Ohio General Assembly's resolution, “The ladybug is symbolic of the people of Ohio — she is proud and friendly, bringing delight to millions of children when she alights on their hand or arm to display her multi-colored wings, and she is extremely industrious and hardy, able to live under the most adverse conditions and yet retain her beauty and charm, while at the same time being of inestimable value to nature.” Visit www.ohiohistorycentral.org

While the honey bee gets most of the credit for providing pollination, there are actually about 500 bee species in Ohio. Go bees! Visit ohioline.osu.edu

Visiting Bugs in Ohio

Visit Dayton's Butterfly House located at Cox Arboretum MetroPark. See up-close live butterflies, caterpillars and host plants that are common to southwest Ohio. Species such as painted lady, red admiral, monarch, giant swallowtail, black swallowtail, spicebush swallowtail, tiger swallowtail, luna moth, cecropia moth, polyphemus moth and pipevine swallowtail are featured. The native-Ohio Butterfly House enables children and adults to view native butterflies and moths in all stages of metamorphosis. Visit www.metroparks.org

Learn about the butterflies at the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus. “Whisk away to an enchanted land of tropical butterflies and splashes of floral color during the Conservatory’s 26th anniversary of Blooms & Butterflies. Hundreds of colorful butterflies fly freely in the Pacific Island Water Garden, a tropical haven filled with bright nectar blooms.” Visit www.fpconservatory.org

The Butterfly House, located in Whitehouse, Ohio, offers visitors the opportunity to view hundreds of species of butterflies in a beautiful enclosed garden setting. With more than 500 butterflies from as far away as South America and Asia, The Butterfly House’s controlled environment lets the general public view more than 100 species of the colorful insects they might, otherwise, only see in books or on television. Visitors also learn about the life cycle of the butterfly and how to provide a healthy environment for the insects. Visit www.toledo.com

Butterfly Ridge Butterfly Conservation Center, located in Rockbridge, Ohio, is a 21-acre slice of the Hocking Hills located in southeastern Ohio. “Butterfly Ridge will invest heavily in helping others develop butterfly habitat.” Visit www.butterfly-ridge.com

Due to COVID-19, please look for information about visitation hours and openings.

Backyard Bugging in Ohio

During the coronavirus quarantine, I updated my plant paradise for these beneficial bugs. Food comes first, so I fertilized the soil for healthy plants. Online, I purchased compact butterfly bushes in colors of pink, lavender, and white. My outdoor space for sun is limited and regular Buddleia (pronounced BUD-lee-ah) takes up lots of room, so I went with the smaller version of cultivars. Shazam! Butterfly bushes are magnets for nectar-seeking bugs.

Corral the kids and grandma and start a habitat for beneficial bugs in your own backyard.

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in southern Ohio.

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