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HABITAT - the arrangement of food, water, cover, and space - IS THE KEY.

Author’s Note

Welcome to Summer!

It seems like spring has quickly blossomed into summer! We are now in peak bloom time for many local plant species, as well as peak activity for local wildlife.

In this issue of HabiChat, you can learn about a lovely group of perennial flowers known as mountain mints, as well as a common backyard snake – the eastern ratsnake. In addition, thanks to Rod Simmons, Natural Resource Manager and Plant Ecologist with the City of Alexandria, I have included a short article on alternatives to traditional lawn.

I am also excited to announce a new Common Snakes of Maryland Photo Guide which covers twelve of the most commonly seen snakes in the state. I also have been busy updating our Snakes of Maryland pages to reflect recent changes in taxonomy.

As summer ripens, check out some of our previous HabiChat articles on topics such as Xeriscaping, Minimizing Pesticide Impacts to Pollinators or Growing Your Own Seed. Don’t forget to add water to your landscapes as well! Finally, keep in mind that deer are currently giving birth. For questions regarding fawns, check out our Deer Fawn page.

Happy Habitats!,
Kerry Wixted

A lavaender colored flower an green leaves.

Hoary Mountain Mint by Doug McGrady


In This Issue:

Habitat Tips: Lawn Alternatives

For many years, the American lawn has been viewed as a status symbol. Traditional lawns – a single cool season grass species like zoysia or fescue or bermuda, completely covering a yard space and maintained at three inches or shorter – are unfortunately often ecological wastelands that require excess water, nutrients, pesticides and maintenance. Read more.

Native Animal Profile: Eastern Ratsnake

At one time, I was deathly afraid of snakes, often screeching and running through the forest whenever I encountered a scaly friend. In college, my desire to be a field biologist, coupled with exposure to and knowledge of snakes, helped soften my feelings for them. Read more.

Native Plant Profile: Mountain Mint

I first learned about mountain mint (Pycnanthemum spp.) several years ago, as a Penn State Extension study found it to be one of the top pollinator plants in their common gardens. Read more.


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We want to hear from you!

Letters, e-mail, photos, drawings. Let us know how successful you are as you create wildlife habitat on your property.

Write to Me!

Kerry Wixted
Natural Resources Biologist II
Maryland Wildlife and Heritage Service
MD Dept of Natural Resources
580 Taylor Ave., E-1
Annapolis MD 21401

phone: 410-260-8566
fax: 410-260-8596
e-mail: kerry.wixted@maryland.gov

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Habichat, the newsletter for Maryland's Stewards of Backyard Wildlife, is published by the Wildlife and Heritage Service, Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The facilities and services of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources are available to all without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, national origin, physical or mental disability. This document is available in alternative format upon request from a qualified individual with a disability.​