My daughter doesn't like birds, my mother-in-law has been seen climbing a chair when a mouse is in view, some people hate snakes and -- although I'm getting used to the creatures that spin them -- I'm not fond of spider webs.

My daughter doesn't like birds, my mother-in-law has been seen climbing a chair when a mouse is in view, some people hate snakes and -- although I'm getting used to the creatures that spin them -- I'm not fond of spider webs.

But everyone loves butterflies! They are among the first insects school children learn about, and no wonder. There is something magical about their transformation from creepy, crawly caterpillars to jewel-winged beauties. Besides, they don't sting, slither, annoy at picnics or (ick) build webs.

Whether perching majestically on a flower petal or flitting about among tall grasses, these colorful insects are nature's exclamation points.

While I was writing this, I was hoping that it would be a good day to get out and spot a few of them, since we're well into the flight period for many butterflies common to central Ohio.

But alas, it's cloudy. Only the little cabbage white is apt to be out on a dreary day, since most butterflies need the sun to fly! The sun warms their flight muscles, assisting them as they flit and flutter.

Sunny days are ahead, however, and I'll see butterflies in abundance.

Monarchs are making their appearance in Ohio, as the descendants of those that migrated to Mexico last year find milkweed farther and farther north. They instinctively wait for milkweed plants to sprout, since that is where they lay their eggs.

The monarch is an easy butterfly to recognize, with its distinctive orange and black markings and a wing span that can reach nearly five inches.

The cabbage whites are seen earlier in the season, since they spend the winter here as pupae and are just waiting for warm days to emerge. They are not native to the United States, having been brought to North America from Europe, but are now the most common butterfly in Ohio. I see them often in my flower gardens.

Another very common butterfly is the pearl crescent, the little orange and black butterfly that you see everywhere.

Two of my favorites are the question mark and the eastern comma. Both are named for little markings on the underside of their wings, and both -- while ablaze with color when flying -- look like dead leaves when the wings are closed. Excellent camouflage.

Here is something to think about: We at Preservation Parks talk a lot about preserving habitat. Well, if habitat that supports milkweed were to disappear, or if the Mexican wintering grounds were to be destroyed, monarchs would disappear from our landscape.

In fact, most butterflies are picky about where they lay their eggs, choosing the same plants with which they have evolved.

They also form preferences as to their diets. For example, the larvae of the eastern tiger swallowtail -- a common Ohio butterfly that you'll see in forest openings, woodland edges, gardens and fields -- love yellow poplar, wild cherry and other broadleaf trees.

As habitat becomes lost to development, the butterfly variety decreases -- a truly sad thought.

Last summer, walking a trail that wound its way along a forest edge, I saw dozens of cute little blue butterflies. I can't remember now which kind they were, but the eastern tailed blue and summer azure are both common to central Ohio. Whichever, they made my walk something special, and I hope they will always be around.

You're likely to see butterflies during most trips to the parks. Please visit www.preservationparks.com, or call (740) 524-8600, to see what is coming up.