State Representatives Anthony DeVitis (R-Green) and Marilyn Slaby (R-Copely) today announced that legislation designating the Portage Lakes area in Summit County as the Purple Martin Capital of Ohio has passed in the Ohio House. Rep. DeVitis and Rep. Slaby both represent portions of Summit County.

As defined under House Bill 404, the purple martin is the largest member of the swallow family in North America. Both the adult male and female birds have distinctive purple markings.

During testimony in committee by members of the Portage Lakes Purple Martin Association, it was made known that purple martins have lived in the Portage Lakes area for 40 years and have significantly reduced the amount of pesticide spraying needed to control the mosquitoes that also inhabit the area. Officials have proven that the presence of the bird can effectively control insect populations.

“I am happy to see such an important aspect of our community being highlighted,” said Rep. DeVitis. “The Portage Lakes Purple Martin Association has done so much over the years to educate the public and revive a species that also positively benefits our environment by eliminating excess use of insecticides.”

Further, the habitation of the bird in the area and the work of the Portage Lakes Purple Martin Association have influenced local Boy Scouts. The Boy Scout troops are responsible for building the nesting houses for the purple martins every spring.

Rep. Slaby said, “The Portage Lakes Purple Martin Association has worked tirelessly since 2000 to keep the birds returning to fledge their babies. Purple martin capitals are an opportunity to educate the public on not only methods of insect control, but also a marvelous bird. The Portage Lakes community would be honored to serve Ohio in this capacity.”

With its passage on the House floor, H.B. 404 will now go to the Ohio Senate for deliberation.

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