So many amazing animals!
Many different creatures call the Children of Indiana Nature Park home. Let’s explore what can be found in the area and what makes these critters unique. We’ll periodically rotate this list so there will always be someone new to learn about!
Ladybugs are pretty and harmless to humans. They also help farmers by eating aphids and other pests that eat plants. Ladybugs have oval, domed-shaped bodies and six short legs. There are about 5,000 types of ladybugs worldwide and depending on which kind it is, they can have spots, stripes, or no markings. The seven-spotted ladybug was brought to North America from Europe in the mid-1900s to help with aphid population control.
Ladybugs are brightly colored to warn predators to eat something else. The bugs secrete an oily and bad-tasting fluid when they are threated. They will also play dead. Predators of ladybugs include birds, frogs, spiders, and dragonflies.
They can live in many different habitats and can be found in grasslands, forests, cities and suburbs and along rivers. Ladybugs are most active spring through fall and once the weather cools down, they will hibernate in a warm and secluded location. This could be in a rotting log, under a rock, or inside houses.
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
This native butterfly of eastern North America is just one type of swallowtail butterfly. The Eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly is common in many different habitats. They fly from spring to fall and will have two or three rounds of young during this time.
Adult Eastern tiger swallowtails feed on nectar from flowers. Males are yellow and have four black “tiger stripes” on each front wing. The females can be yellow or black. When they are yellow, they look similar to males but have blue along their bottom wings. Their wingspans are between three and five and a half inches.
These butterflies are mostly solitary and fly high, often seen above the tree tops of deciduous forests and along streams. They enjoy the nectar of a variety of flowers like milkweeds, azaleas, and thistles. Eastern tiger swallowtails also have a many host plants on which they lay their eggs and the caterpillars eat from including cottonwood, ash, and wild black cherry trees.
Though their name comes from the red patch on these woodpecker’s bellies, it is difficult to see it in the wild. The red on top and above their beaks are much easier to see for identification. Ranging from nine to eleven inches in body length, the red-bellied woodpecker has a wingspan reaches between fifteen and eighteen inches.
These are noisy birds and have a variety of calls with males tending to be more vocal than females. They eat arthropods found in trees, but are also able to catch insects in flight. However, red-bellied woodpeckers are omnivorous and will eat fruits and seeds in addition to insects. Red-bellied woodpeckers can be seen on tree branches and tree trunks hunting for their next meal by picking at bark.
Red-bellied woodpeckers have long tongues. They can extend their tongues almost two inches past the end of their beaks. With a barbed tip and sticky spit, the woodpecker uses its tongue to grab its prey from deep crevices.
Eastern Gray Tree Frog
This small arboreal frog is found throughout the eastern United States and is also known simply as the gray tree frog. Despite their name, gray tree frogs can be green as well as gray depending on where they are sitting and can change color similar to how a chameleon does, however the frogs change color at a slower rate. These frogs have yellow or orange coloring inside their mouths which they flash at predators to scare them away.
Eastern gray tree frogs need water for breeding. For this reason, they live in forested areas that can provide that habitat. In summer time they live in moist hollow trees or in rotting logs. During winter these frogs hibernate under tree roots and under leaves. They keep from freezing during this time by producing a fluid in their blood that acts as an anti-freeze called glycerol. Eastern gray tree frogs typically live between seven and nine years.
These frogs are nocturnal and are active in the evening and at night. During breeding season, they are a common sight, but like to stay hidden away the rest of the time. Even if they are not visible, they can be heard. The frogs communicate with each other with their shrill and chirp-like call, lasting about one second and is repeated three or four times.
Let’s talk about plants!
The park is home to a variety of plants. Some belong here (they’re called native plants) and some do not belong here (they're called invasive plants). We’ll explore both native and common invasive plants here, sharing a little about each one to help you learn about what grows on your land. We will periodically update this list, so be sure to come back so you can become a native plant expert!
Native: Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Yarrow is also known as old man’s pepper, nosebleed plant, or devil’s nettle. This flowering plant is native to temperate regions in the northern hemisphere including North America. Temperate regions are between the poles and the tropics usually avoiding extremely cold or extremely hot weather. It flowers between May and June producing disk flowers, meaning that many tiny flowers make up a cluster. The flowers are white but there are ornamental cultivars with flowers in every color of the rainbow. There is still a debate whether this species is truly native to the Midwest or not.
Native: White snakeroot (Ageratina altissima)
A poisonous herb plant that is native to the eastern and central North America. They are commonly found in woods or brushy areas and bloom in mid to late summer or fall. Its flowers are white and once the flowers begin to wilt away, small seeds, which resemble dandelion seeds, are released. White snakeroot is adaptable to many different environments and can flourish in shade or bare open ground. Whitesnake root contains a poison called tremetol. When cattle eat the plant, their meat and milk become contaminated and if consumed by people, the toxin is passed on to us. However, a large amount must be consumed in order for poisoning in humans to occur.
Invasive: Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii)
Japanese Barberry is an invasive woody shrub that is native to Japan. It was introduced to the U.S. for use in landscaping. Japanese Barberry is used as a decorative plant because of its yellow spring flowers, bright leaf color changes in the fall, and the red berries it produces in the winter. Birds spread the seeds from those berries, and Japanese Barberry then takes over forests. This plant is able to alter the acid and nitrate levels in the soil to fit its needs. In addition to making the soil suitable for itself, Japanese Barberry is also a plant deer stay away from. This gives it a competitive advantage over native plants. For these reasons, please plant native species.
Invasive: Border Privet (Ligustrum vulgare)
Border privet or Amur privet is native to Japan, Korea, and northeastern China. It was introduced to the U.S. for use in landscaping, and now invades forests in many states. They are found in floodplains, fields, forests, and forest edges. They form dense thickets which creates shade and chokes out other native plant species. They also have leaves that are unappealing to leaf eating insects. Privets grow tall between 8 and 20 feet with trunks made up of multiple stems and long leafy branches. It is important to use native plants for landscaping and gardens.
Caring for the Land
On this page we feature stories about how people work to keep native habitats healthy and wild, by caring for our lands and waters.
Connecting Peace and Nature
Spanning across a few days in the hot summer, employees from The Children of Indiana Nature Park had the opportunity to interact with the kids of Peace Learning Center’s summer camp program, which is located in Eagle Creek Park.
Read the rest of the story!
A Natural Park
NOPE, you won’t find slides and swings at the Children of Indiana Nature Park (Park), but you WILL find trees, insects, signs of critters, and life around every corner. This land was deeded to all of the children in Indiana because we think YOU ARE IMPORTANT and because PROTECTING NATURE MATTERS! As you explore the land, you will learn about ways we are changing the property to make your land as healthy as possible!
My Spot Now
Depending where your deed is located, your spot may be in a hay pasture or your spot may be in a wooded area. The Park is mostly flat with a ravine running north-south through the center of the Park. The eastern part of the Park is largely an old white pine plantation where the trees were harvested for building materials. The western part of the Park is a hay pasture that is bordered on the east by hardwood forest that generally follows the ravine. There are mowed trails throughout the property for people to walk. In time, this area will be restored to its natural state as it was before the hay pastures and the pine plantation.
Making the Park Healthier
In the future, the Children of Indiana Nature Park will look more like it should with native plants and animals, thanks to the great care that many children gave to the land, and all deeds to the Park will be located in hardwood forest habitat. The Park will be a native hardwood forest with a diverse understory of native plants, and will reflect the natural features of the Central Tillplain region. The Park will look as settlers may have found the land in the area in the mid 1800's. A new trail system will also allow easy access throughout the Park.
Caring for My Land
What people do on the land affects the plants and animals that live there - sometimes good, sometimes not-so-good. People who care for the land and the creatures that live on the land are called conservationists. At the Children of Indiana Nature Park, we are planning conservation activities that will maximize the number of native plants and animals that call the Park “home.” Read about some of the big changes
occuring at the Park!