Portage Lakes closer to designation of Purple Martin Capital of Ohio
COLUMBUS — Legislation designating the Portage Lakes area in Summit County as the Purple Martin Capital of Ohio was approved in the Ohio House recently, according to state Reps. Anthony DeVitis (R-District 36) and Marilyn Slaby (R-District 38).
Ohio House Bill 404 was approved in the House after members of the Portage Lakes Purple Martin Association testified in committee that purple martins have lived in the Portage Lakes area for 40 years, can effectively control insect populations and have significantly reduced the amount of pesticide spraying needed to control the mosquitoes that also inhabit the area, according to DeVitis and Slaby in a press release.
Larry Hunter, founder of the association, said members have worked since 2000 to have the area declared as the Purple Martin Capital, and several politicians have assisted in this effort over the years, including former state representatives Mary Taylor (now lieutenant governor) and Stephen Dyer.
“This is really big,” Hunter said of the House passage of the legislation. “It’s all about the birds and our mission to propagate them and educate the public about the benefit of these birds. We are also hoping to inspire other communities to follow our lead.”
Hunter said the purple martin is the largest member of the swallow family in North America, and both the adult male and female birds have distinctive purple markings. The birds eat egg-laying adult insects such as mosquitoes, which helps “balance” their populations in the Portage Lakes area, he added.
Hunter said the birds also offer an “economic advantage,” since they help reduce and eliminate the costly need for chemical spraying to control mosquitos.
House Bill 404 is now under consideration by the Ohio Senate.
Maria Lindsay contributed to this report.
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