Why You Should Love the Unloved
Valentine’s Day is almost here and love is in the air! What animals do YOU love? Koalas? Pandas? Tigers? Well, here at the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes, we’re here to introduce you to some new, very eligible, non-traditionally beautiful, local Ohio animals to love.
Before you click AWAY from this page, give these animals a chance? We know they might not all be supermodels, but look past their appearance to learn more about them and you just might just fall in love…
We KNOW, WE KNOW. It’s the LEGS. Don’t we LOVE leggy animals, though? What about flamingos? Meet the house centipede (Scutigera coleoptrata)! House centipedes can do something flamingos can’t…keep your HOME pest FREE! That’s right, these arthropods can be unsettling to look at, but they’re harmless to humans AND they eat silverfish, flies, moths, bed bugs, earwigs, and MORE that do “bug” you! If you see a house centipede in your home, thank it for keeping the pests away that can actually destroy your home goods.
Spiders are the unsung heroes of the natural world. Thanks to Charlotte’s Web and Lucas the Spider, their public perception has gotten a little better over the years. Meet the bold jumping spider (Phidippus audax)! Found around homes and gardens, these adorable, large-eyed spiders can see well enough to see you! If you see one in your garden, give it a wave hello and we bet it’ll watch you right back. Unlike most spiders, they have excellent vision. Oh, and they’re harmless to YOU but not to insects! It’s estimated that spiders eat 400-800 million METRIC TONS of insects every YEAR. Once again, turn, wave, and thank your 8-legged friends for their service.
“Keep calm and CARRION” is a vulture’s motto! Vultures, like this black vulture (Coragyps atratus) and their cousins, the turkey vultures, are not the most beautiful birds in the world to many, but they are the world’s best cleaner-uppers next to insects and fungi. They can smell rotting carcasses–their favorite food–from miles away! Vultures worldwide play an incredibly important role in the ecosystem eating rotting carcasses that would otherwise spread disease. Next time you see a vulture in the sky, wave and thank them for making the planet a healthier place.
Bats are surrounded by myth, legend, and lore, but are they THAT scary? Far from it! Meet the small-footed bat (Myotis leibii)! Bats are incredibly important for the ecosystem. Not only do they eat their weight in insects every night (anywhere from 6,000-8,000 a night!) but this saves farmers MONEY! A 2006 study found that Mexican free-tailed bats saved farmers an average of $724,000 in pest control and losses EVERY YEAR. Also, bats don’t care about your hair or your blood. In fact, the myth started because humans walking through fields tend to stir up tasty insects, and bats swoop down around people trying to catch their dinner. Thank bats for their awesome service to agriculture!
Why should you love the unloved? Unfortunately, animals that are not traditionally “cute” don’t have as much protection as animals that are, which is the sad truth. You always hear campaigns about saving the pandas, elephants, or other large, adorable mammals, bu when have you ever heard about an endangered spider? Unfortunately, it’s been shown that the “ugly” animals, which are more ecologically important than many of the “cute” animals, don’t get as much recognition, and at the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes, we hope to change that.
If you’d like to print these Valentines to hand out to friends, co-workers, or at your school, CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD!
Your friends at the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes