The first series of Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation Lake Talk & Eats kicked off the summer Saturday, June 2, with a presentation by Aaron Stump, habitat specialist from Indiana Wildlife, Indianapolis, and a native plant sale. Nearly 100 attended this year’s event.
WACF will host two more Lake Talk & Eats events. The next event will be Saturday, July 7, for the annual bug catch, a delight to those of all ages. This free event will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. and includes breakfast.
Stump, who works with legislators and presents programs throughout the state to promote native plants, spoke on a wide range of topics relating to wildlife-friendly habitats. He has worked with college campuses to develop sustainable campuses, which include less lawn chemicals and more wildlife. He added he has also worked to get several trails in Indiana to be sustainable and be certified.
The definition of native, according to Stump, are things that have been in the state prior to human efforts. “Everything starts with native plants,” he stated. He pointed out 90 percent of the insects are species specific and native oak trees support more than 500 species of butterflies and moths.
Biodiversity is key in utilizing native plants. “Humans are impacting the environment, which is impacting the native species that coexist,” Stump stated.
“A manicured space looks great, but we don’t see how this affects the environment around them,” he stated. “What does a butterfly see when it’s flying over your home/lawn space?” he asked when looking at habitat vs. lawn. He pointed out woolly caterpillars live inside the dead leaves in the fall and tall woody stems may be homes for insects to live in. “But we don’t like the way it looks so we cut them down.”
Mentioning the positive of native plants, Stump stated native roots go very deep and are not affected by drought, they allow water to percolate down deep, they hold the soil and filter it. Native plants also provide food, water, shelter and nesting for wildlife, all needs that need to be provided in yards. He gave an example of the opossum. “They are the Hoovers of the forest. They are constantly cleaning themselves and eating fleas and ticks,” he said. The opossum is said to eat about 5,000 ticks in a season.
Those who have a natural habit were informed they could certify that habitat through Indiana Wildlife and membership to the group is available. More information about Indiana Wildlife is available by visiting Indianawildlife.org.
Following the presentation those attending had the opportunity to purchase their own native plants for their homes and yards.
The final Lakes Talk & Eats will be held Saturday, Aug. 18, for a historical Lilly Pad Cruise. The boat will leave promptly at 11 a.m. from the Frog dock. Reservations, $10 per person, can be made at the WACF Education Center, (574) 457-4549 or email firstname.lastname@example.org