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Experiencing nature in the wintertime at River Styx Park

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    Hikers stop to take a look at a praying mantis egg-sack at River Styx Park Sunday with Medina County Park District naturalist Clair Bailey.

    NATHAN HAVENNER / GAZETTE

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    Hikers stop to look at a miniscule snow flea during a guided hike Sunday at River Styx Park in Guilford Township.

    NATHAN HAVENNER / GAZETTES

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    Clair Bailey holds up a parasite plant typically found near beech trees during a guided hike Sunday at River Styx Park in Guilford Township.

    NATHAN HAVENNER / GAZETTE

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GUILFORD TWP. — The afternoon sun shone against the bright white snow as a band of winter hikers explored the sights and sounds of Medina County Park District’s River Styx Park.

“There are a lot of things going on in the winter, even if a lot of people don’t think to go outside in the winter,” naturalist Clair Bailey said. “It is fun to look at all the other things that are going on because the animals are doing different stuff.”

As hikers made their way through a wooded area along the park’s Outer Loop trail, a small Chinese mantis egg case could be seen hanging from a tree.

“In that egg case there could be anywhere from 20 to 200 eggs or baby praying mantis; they will spend the whole entire winter in there,” Bailey said.

In the spring, the mantises will hatch and proceed to eat whatever they can catch, including each other.

“It is probably good that some of them get eaten because if we had 200 out of every egg case that is out here we would be overrun with mantis,” she said.

Snow crunched as hikers made their way through the wooded area during the hourlong guided hike.

Karen Sisler, of Wadsworth, said she enjoys the guided hikes and was hoping to see some birds during the outing.

“It is just a beautiful winter day that I wanted to enjoy,” Sisler said.

Karlene Weast, of Doylestown, said it was a combination of her love of hiking during all seasons and feeling a little bit of cabin fever after being stuck inside due to last week’s below-zero temperatures.

“I hike all year-round,” Weast said. “I enjoy hiking, winter, spring, summer, fall, because the parks look different all the time.”

“I like these hikes especially, with the naturalist, because I always learn new things,” Weast added.

Bailey stopped along the side of the trail to look for snow fleas near tree trunks.

The miniscule insect-like arthropods resemble a piece of fresh cracked pepper.

“They normally just live in the soil, and they will kind of hop around,” Bailey said.

Winter is a great time to spot the snow flea because its dark color will stand out against the bright white snow, she said.

The group received an unusual surprise as it made its way to the parking lot, with the discovery of a lightning bug.

“That lightning bug was crazy,” Bailey said. “I have never seen a lightning bug out on the snow before.”

“If you look up winter active insects, that is not one that comes up,” she added.

For information about Medina County Park District events, visit www.medinacountyparks.com.

Contact reporter Nathan Havenner at nhavenner@medina-gazette.com.
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