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Insect or wind pollinated

By Ranger Steve Mueller


Showy attractive flowers tend to be insect pollinated. Flowers that do not capture our attention are typically wind pollinated. The size of pollen is a critical factor between the wind and insect pollinated flowers. Large pollen weight causes it to fall to ground near the parent plant when dislodged. An insect or bird is needed to carry heavy pollen from flower to flower in order for the plant to have successful fertilization. Tiny pollen is easily carried long distances by wind to improve chances for pollination.

When a bee, butterfly, beetle, other insect, or hummingbird carries pollen from one flower to another, the pollen sticks to the top of a pistil if it is ripe and receptive. Male pollen is equivalent to sperm in animals. When it is released from a flower’s anther, an animal carries it to another flower. Animals that carry pollen improve the chances for pollination because pollen on their bodies has the best chance of reaching a flower of the same species. Wind carried pollen rides the wind wherever it goes.

We notice yellow pollen on a honeybee’s body. Showy flower petals attract the attention of insects. When insects approach a flower, they see “lighted runway” landing strips. They are not as noticeable to our eyes because petals reflect ultraviolet light we do not see. Insects see a broader visible spectrum. We might see dark or light lines on the petals that lead toward the center of the flower.

Those lines are runways that direct the travel of insects like airport runway lights help a plane’s pilot on the landing strip. As the insect walks toward the center of a flower to probe for nectar, it brushes against an anther that sits atop a thin string-like filament that bends when bumped. If the anther is ripe, pollen will be released onto the body of an insect and sticks to its “hairy body.”

The female part of the flower usually ripens later than its flower’s anthers and is not receptive when the pollen is released. This helps prevent inbreeding. The part of the flower pistil that captures pollen has a sticky top called the stigma. Pollen on it digests its way through a long neck called the style and when it reaches the ovule (egg) in the ovary it will fertilize it. The fertilized ovule becomes a seed.

The same process occurs in wind-pollinated flowers like corn, grass, sedges, and ragweed. Ragweed blooms at the same time as showy yellow goldenrod flowers in a field. The pollen on goldenrod is large and fewer in number than minute pollen cells released from ragweed. Goldenrod pollen will not be carried far by wind and falls to the ground. It is insect dependent for pollination. Ragweed pollen, like corn pollen, can float in a gentle light breeze. It will go wherever the wind goes and is less efficient at reaching a flower of its own species. More pollen is produced by wind-pollinated plants and compensates for the lower efficiency.

Pollen from the nondescript green ragweed flowers makes it to our nose and sinuses where it causes an allergic reaction we call “hay fever.” People unjustly blame goldenrod for “hay fever.” Goldenrod pollen is unlikely to get in our noses unless a bee enters our nose. If that occurs, the bee will be of greater concern than the pollen.

Some insect pollinated flowers are green but the insects find them. I wonder if they reflect ultraviolet light. Some flowers can utilize both wind and insect pollination. How I wish I knew more about the secret workings in nature niches. There is always something new to discover outside. Do not blame the insect-pollinated goldenrod for “hay fever.”

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net – Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary, 13010 Northland Dr. Cedar Springs, MI 49319 or call 616-696-1753.

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Rare butterflies make news

Ranger Steve Mueller

Ranger Steve Mueller

By Ranger Steve Mueller

Human health is aided by rare butterfly protection. Long term human economic interests are protected by aiding endangered butterflies. There are short term economic expenses that create concerns whether effort should maintain healthy habitats that serve people, butterflies and other organisms. Maintaining components of an ecosystem does not make sense to some people.

Paul Ehrlich described the importance well. He said if you are flying on a jet and a rivet pops off, it is not too concerning. When additional rivets holding the plane together come off, passenger concern increases. When enough rivets disappear the plane will dismember and crash, killing all on board.

Species in habitats are like rivets on a plane. There is little concern when one species disappears. As more disappear, our human economy and health falters when ecological services fail. Many cases document ecosystem simplification that caused human economic loss and death. The famous potato famine is just one example causing massive human death and a country’s economic collapse.

In 2000, a West Michigan Butterfly Association member, Kathy Bowler, discovered a population of the federally endangered Karner Blue Butterfly along the White Pine Trail in Algoma Township. Kent County was not known to have this species. Mo Nielsen and I verified the identification. Successful efforts by the Land Conservancy of West Michigan established the Maas Preserve to protect the habitat.

The Grand Rapids Press interviewed Leon Uplinger and me. Leon was Algoma township supervisor at the time. The press reported Leon thought all the fuss over a few butterflies is a waste of time and he did not expect the township to join any preservation efforts. He further stated, “I take the position that I would rather help a human life rather than another creature.”

I was invited to address community members in the Berrien Springs area regarding a different endangered species back then. The least expensive highway construction would likely impact the survival of the Mitchell’s Satyr butterfly and possibly push it to extinction. An alternative that protected the environment costed more money but protected the environment, sustaining human community health. Some people felt like Leon did about the Karner Blue and some thought the habitat needed protection.

When our focus is narrow, we do not recognize how other creatures and the environment maintain economic, social, and environmental health for us, our kids, and future generations. The Karner Blue and Mitchell Satyr are rivets in the local ecosystem. Losing them is like losing two rivets from a jet. Environmental components needed by butterflies are also needed by humans. Nature Niches are connected in ways that are not obvious but they serve humans and other creatures.

The Mitchell Satyr depends on groundwater instead of surface water to support its habitat. The water picks up minerals and carries them to surface wetlands that support a unique variety of fen organisms that would not otherwise survive. The fen water feeds surface streams maintaining water quality. The wetlands serve human uses beyond simply saving a few butterflies. The least expensive highway proposed would damage surface habitat and groundwater with negative impact on human communities.

The short view was that greater expense to protect the environment and butterfly hurt people economically. The long view was that a greater expense protected the butterfly, community groundwater supplies, filtered pollutants from getting into surface water, enhanced fishing and hunting habitat, protected farmland, maintained pristine habitat for human enjoyment and maintained essential ecological functions provided by many species. Do you support the short or long view? Protection of the Endangered Species Act takes the long view. Efforts continue to undermine and eliminate the Endangered Species Act. Political parties are now separated by short and long view efforts.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net or Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary, 13010 Northland Dr. Cedar Springs, MI 49319 or call 616-696-1753.

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Smallmouth bass state record broken


Robert Bruce Kraemer of Treasure Island, Florida, recently set a new state-record catch for smallmouth bass with a fish he caught Sunday, Sept. 11, on Indian River in Cheboygan County. Kraemer owns a cottage in Indian River and spends most of the summer there.

Robert Bruce Kraemer of Treasure Island, Florida, recently set a new state-record catch for smallmouth bass with a fish he caught Sunday, Sept. 11, on Indian River in Cheboygan County. Kraemer owns a cottage in Indian River and spends most of the summer there.

Michigan’s existing state record for smallmouth bass was broken Sunday by Robert Bruce Kraemer of Treasure Island, Florida.

A longtime angler with a cottage in Indian River, Cheboygan County, Kraemer said he’s been fishing Michigan waters since 1965, but this is his first state-record catch. Using night crawlers for bait, Kraemer landed a 9.98-pound, 23.10-inch smallmouth bass while out on the Indian River.

“I usually spend June through the end of September up here at the cottage,” Kraemer said. “I’ve got some great fish stories and some nice fish, but nothing like this.”

The record was verified by Tim Cwalinski, a Michigan Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist in Gaylord.

The previous state record for smallmouth bass was set in October 2015 when Greg Gasiciel of Rhodes, Michigan, landed a 9.33-pound, 24.50-inch fish from Hubbard Lake in Alcona County.

Prior to Gasiciel’s catch, the smallmouth bass state record had stood since 1906. That fish was a 9.25-pound, 27.25-inch fish from Long Lake in Cheboygan County.

“In just the last four years, anglers have caught a total of 16 state-record fish, a remarkable number of big fish in a relatively short time,” said Jim Dexter, chief of the DNR Fisheries Division. “This is just more evidence that Michigan is home to a healthy, robust fishery—a resource and sporting opportunity that continues to draw people from all over.”

Kraemer, the new smallmouth bass state record-holder, agreed.

“I keep coming back to Michigan for a lot of reasons,” he said. “The weather, the clear, cold water, good fishing…it’s just nice up here.”

Michigan fishing state records are recognized by weight only. To qualify for a state record, fish must exceed the current listed state-record weight and identification must be verified by a DNR fisheries biologist.

For more information on fishing in Michigan, including other state-record catches visit www.michigan.gov/fishing.

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Liberty Hunt this weekend


Youth Hunt and Hunters With Disabilities

The Liberty Hunt, a firearm deer hunt consisting of both the Youth Hunt, and Hunters with Disabilities, will take place this weekend, September 17 and 18.

Youth ages 16 and under, veterans with disabilities, and individuals with disabilities who qualify as stated below, may participate in this hunt.

To qualify, an individual must fit one of the following criteria:

*be a veteran who has been determined to have 100-percent disability, or is rated as individually unemployable by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

*have been issued a permit, by the DNR, to hunt from a standing vehicle.

*have been issued a permit by the DNR to hunt using a laser-sighting device.

*be blind as defined by MCL 393.351.

During this two-day hunt, a deer or deer combo license may be used for an antlered or antlerless deer. Antler Point Restrictions do not apply. A Deer Management Assistance (DMA) permit may also be used to take one antlerless deer only, if issued for the area/land upon which hunting. The bag limit for this season is one deer. All hunters participating in this season must wear hunter orange.

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Catch of the Week

out-catch-of-week-mabieEmerson June Mabie, age 7, daughter of Ryan and Koree Mabie of Ada, caught her first trout—an 11-1/2 inch brown—while fishing at the bridge on Cedar Creek with her grandfather, Kurt Mabie, on Memorial Day weekend.

Way to go, Emerson! You made the Post Catch of the Week!


It’s back—get out those cameras!

It’s that time of year again when anglers big and small like to tell their fish tales! Send us a photo and story of your first, best, funniest, biggest, or even your smallest catch. Include your name, age, address, and phone number, along with the type and size of fish, and where caught.  We can’t wait to hear from you! Photos published as space allows. Photos/stories may be sent by email to news@cedarspringspost.com with Catch of the Week in the subject line, or mail to: Catch of the Week, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.


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Become a DNR conservation officer

The conservation officer academy recruits ran the first leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Michigan.

The conservation officer academy recruits ran the first leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Michigan.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division is actively seeking recruits for its next conservation officer academy, which begins July 16, 2017, at the Michigan State Police Training Academy in Dimondale.

“The DNR, an equal opportunity employer, is seeking a diverse applicant pool, including military veterans,” said Sgt. Jason Wicklund, recruit school commander.

Certain criteria apply. All recruit applicants must:

  • Be able to lawfully possess a firearm in Michigan.
  • Be a United States citizen.
  • Be at least 21 years of age before graduation from the academy.
  • Become a resident of the state of Michigan by completion of the Probationary Training Program.
  • Possess a valid Michigan driver’s license.
  • Possess a satisfactory driving record.
  • Possess a clean criminal record absent of any felony convictions.
  • Submit to a thorough background investigation measuring the applicant’s suitability for law enforcement work.
  • Be able to pass the MCOLES physical fitness test. Go to http://www.michigan.gov/mcoles and click on “physical fitness test.”

To apply, for the job, complete the online application at https://www.governmentjobs.com/careers/michigan/jobs/1525399/conservation-officer-10-statewide.

Recruits spent time learning conservation law, including how to identify various features of game fish common to Michigan waters.

Recruits spent time learning conservation law, including how to identify various features of game fish common to Michigan waters.

When submitting an application, download and complete the Job Fit Questionnaire and Location Preference Sheet found in the “Additional Requirements and Information” section of the “Description” tab. Attach completed Job Fit Questionnaire, Location Preference Sheet, cover letter and resume to the application. Applicants not completing and submitting all requested materials will be screened from the process. The State of Michigan is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, religion, age, disability or other factors prohibited by law.

Recruits are classified as State of Michigan employees during the academy and receive pay for their training. The 22-week academy culminates in graduation and is then followed by an additional 20 weeks of field training throughout the state while paired with experienced conservation officers.

At the completion of training, the new officers are assigned to one of the state’s 83 counties where they will work and live.

During ice safety training, recruits jumped into an ice hole and learned to use their issued ice picks to maneuver out of the hole. All safety precautions were taken during the exercise to ensure recruit safety

During ice safety training, recruits jumped into an ice hole and learned to use their issued ice picks to maneuver out of the hole. All safety precautions were taken during the exercise to ensure recruit safety

“DNR conservation officers serve a distinct role in Michigan’s law enforcement community,” Wicklund said. “They are certified police officers with the authority to enforce all Michigan’s laws.”

Conservation officers have unique training in a wide variety of areas related to the protection of Michigan’s citizens and natural resources. This includes extensive training in game, fish, and trapping enforcement and recreational safety and enforcement.

They also receive extensive training in firearms, precision and off-road driving and survival tactics.

Conservation officers also serve the public in life-saving capacities, including ice-rescue, search and rescue and first-aid. Often, and especially in rural communities, they are the first to respond to an emergency.

For more information on the application process and how to apply to the conservation officer academy, contact Sgt. John Meka at mekaj@michigan.gov or 517-284-6499. To learn more about the conservation officer hiring process, visit www.michigan.gov/conservationofficers and click on the link below the “Hiring Process” subheading.

Learn more about the academy by reading the 2016 Conservation Officer Academy blogs for Recruit School No. 7. Visit www.michigan.gov/conservationofficers and click on “Conservation Officer Academy” under the “Hiring Process” subheading to read about each week of training, view training photos and watch videos of recruits persevering.

Subscribe to the conservation officer academy blog, also posted on the Michigan DNR Facebook page, which follows these new officers during their challenges and accomplishments throughout field-training and beyond. Intermittent posts continue past graduation.

Michigan conservation officers are fully commissioned state peace officers who provide natural resources protection, ensure recreational safety and protect citizens by providing general law enforcement duties and lifesaving operations in the communities they serve. Learn more about Michigan conservation officers at www.michigan.gov/conservationofficers.

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Catch of the Week

OUT-Catch-of-week-AbbottGrace Abbott, 10, daughter of Bob and Mindy Abbott of Cedar Springs, caught this whopper 28-inch pike on Rainbow Lake in Trufant, while visiting a family friend’s cottage. Way to go, Grace! You just made the Post Catch of the Week!

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Neighborhood Nature Niche

Ranger Steve Mueller

Ranger Steve Mueller

By Ranger Steve Mueller


How far must you travel for basic food, water, and shelter needs? Are they readily available in the neighborhood? Who fills your specialized nature niche to provide essentials that keep you healthy?

I reminisced about my early childhood with such thoughts. I grew up in a city of 100,000 people that provided many of our neighborhood family needs within a half-mile home range. Ecologically a “home range” is the area an organism roams in pursuit of basic needs. In addition to food, water, and shelter those needs must be arranged into an appropriate living space.

Until I was two, we lived in an upstairs apartment at my grandparent’s house. My dad built a house across the street from Grandpa and Grandma’s. My older brothers recall the move but I was too young. I remember going to my grandparent’s. A friend of my dad’s moved his family into the apartment we vacated. I played with his daughters Kris and Lynn. With those girls and other neighborhood kids, we learned social and life skills that supported life in our small neighborhood community nature niche.

Two houses to the south of ours, brothers Paul and Gus Herm had their home. Paul owned the Texico gas/service station located at the corner to the north where several businesses supplied our needs. I do not know where Paul’s employee’s lived but I expect they lived nearby. Three houses to the north from ours was Dr. McCarty’s dentist office where he lived in half and had the office in the other half. Across the street from that office lived Mr. Art Persale, who had a remnant small farm.

The farm was near the Texico service station at the intersection of State and Bay Streets in Saginaw. A privately owned Strand Drive-in restaurant, comparable to an A&W, was on one corner, our barbershop on another, and Granger Nitz Pharmacy on the fourth. Rupprecht’s Meat Market was next to the pharmacy, followed by Miller Bakery. The bakery smell was the best smell in the neighborhood. People would line up for the fresh baked bread in the morning. Mr. Miller would not cut it until it cooled, otherwise it would crush in the slicer. I still cannot find pineapple or cinnamon rolls as good as he made. An appliance, furniture sales and repair shop was near the bakery.

Across the street was the Daniel Theater that showed double feature movies preceded with the “News of the World and two cartoons. Between the movies when film reels were changed people bought popcorn and candy. I liked the Chuckles candy in its five-piece packet or a box of Milk Duds. White’s Bar, owned by my friend Bill’s dad, was next to the theater. Whites lived near Fuerbringer Elementary School that was a half-mile walk from my home. There were other neighborhood businesses that I do not remember that supplied things I did not use like a women’s beauty parlor and tax service. Not every person used all the services available. Specialized services met the needs for different people similar to services provided to organisms in natural wild habitats.

Behind our house was an extensive field that had been a farm field before my memory. We could see the row homes across the field on Avon Street where the Filiatrauts lived. My dad went to school with Mrs. Filiatraut and I went to school with her daughter Jane. The field was our playground full of rabbits, insects, excavated holes and forts we constructed.

Some essential products came and went from greater distances like city water and city sewage removal.

Neighborhood raspberry, strawberry, corn, potato, and tomato gardens supplied personal needs. A local farmer with his horse drawn fresh produce wagon visited weekly. The milkman came often to deliver milk and it was necessary to bring it in from the milk box before it froze on cold winter mornings.

Utilize the local farm markets, support local producers and neighborhood suppliers for basic needs. In turn become the supplier that maintains healthy wild nature niche needs for native plants and animals in your yard.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net – Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary, 13010 Northland Dr. Cedar Springs, MI 49319 or call 616-696-1753.


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Catch of the Week

OUT-Catch-of-week-TrollaFive-year-old Lincoln Trolla, son of Katie (Wolfe) and Joe Trolla, landed a 13-inch bass during his first river fishing trip in Breckenridge, Mich. While it was an inch short of being a keeper, it was a mountain of fun to reel in!

Congratulations, Lincoln, you made The Post Catch of the Week!

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Weigh less under a full moon

Ranger Steve Mueller

Ranger Steve Mueller

Ranger Steve’s Nature Niche

By Ranger Steve Mueller


If you desire to weigh less, weigh yourself when the moon is overhead or even better when it is a New Moon. When the sun and moon are both on the same side of the Earth during a new moon, they exert greater gravitational pull together and make you weigh less. Tides are highest when the gravity from both pulls toward them. You will weigh your least when the sun and moon are directly in line. The opposite side of the Earth experiences high tides at the same time. This results in high tides every twelve hours. Unfortunately, our bathroom scales do not measure fine enough to actually show how much less you weigh. It is only a fraction of a pound.

The Perseus Meteor shower article two weeks ago took precedence over the moon’s gravity because it only occurs once annually. We experience moon cycles monthly. The Perseid meteor shower peaks about August 11-13 but we can observe increased meteors for a greater time about a week before and after peak.

I have read the moon’s gravity is not great enough to create tides in the Great Lakes because the size of the lakes is too small but my observations do not agree. It is well known that tides in oceans raise and lower water by several feet daily. In the open ocean it is not observable, but along the shore, water retreats great distances when the sea floor slope is gentle. If the coast drops abruptly, it is still noticeable but one must look at the nearly vertical cliff walls. Sea wall life becomes visible for several hours before the water rises again.

I observed a tide in Lake Michigan near Manistique in the Upper Peninsula. We lived there for a couple years when the girls were little. We would frequently walk the mile to the lakeshore with wagon in tow just in case the girls became too tired.

The lake surface was as smooth as glass on a warm summer night. A full moon worked its way to zenith. Dolomitic limestone slabs of flat rock peppered the shallow water near the swimming beach. Some of the flat slabs barely protruded above still water. Rocks made an inviting stepping-stone trail to a large rock that rose several feet above lake level. We walked on the dry slabs to the big rock and sat to enjoy the evening. It was a movie quality evening. We had the lake, quiet, beauty, and the distance sounds of nature from the shore all to ourselves. It was a choice family evening.

We sat on the rock as the moon moved overhead. A Great Blue Heron fed in the shallows to the west. Ring-billed and Herring Gulls walked the beach gathering food morsels in the dimming light as day became night. The moon was bright enough to create shallows of our silhouettes. Aquatic insects skimmed the shiny water surface. We looked for fish but I do not recall if we saw any. I guess it is good reason to pull my daughters away from their busy lives and take them back to look for the abundance of life and see if we can observe fish. Life thrives in the water, on the surface, and above it. I know fish must be present or the heron would not have been wading and hunting.

When we decided it was time to walk home, we planned to walk on flat rocks used to reach our high rock perch. Most were now under water. Moon’s gravity had drawn Lake Michigan closer. The surface of the lake was higher but unlike large ocean tides, Lake Michigan had risen about a half inch. It was enough to submerge several of our stepping-stones. I did not have a millimeter ruler to measure the change. I should have gotten a dried grass stem to determine the vertical lake level change. It is another reason to return so I can measure how high a rock protrudes at low tide twelve hours earlier and then measure how much it is submerged when the moon pulls Lake Michigan closer. Take your family outdoors to observe and experience wonderful everyday nature phenomena.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net – Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary, 13010 Northland Dr. Cedar Springs, MI 49319 or call 616-696-1753.

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