Today’s two topics are the murder of eight people in the Rhoden family the murder that happened in Vandling, Pennsylvania. Find out more by listening to our podcast or reading the full show notes at http://www.MichiganandotherMayhem.com
Here at Michigan and other Mayhem, two non-professional researchers will intrigue you with interesting stories about Michigan murders, mysteries, odd facts, and other mayhem from around the world. Two sisters-in-law will keep you guessing about what our next subject will be as we discuss true crime, paranormal, historical, and scientific topics. Our weekly podcast will keep you entertained and possibly titillated.
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Warning: This podcast occasionally contains strong language which may be unsuitable for children.
Continuing conversation: This week we talked about the Great Lakes Storm of 1913.
The Storm Shield App Youtube video talks about the Great Lakes storm and how to this day it is still the worst natural disaster in the area.
Cleveland.com wrote an article Remembering the Great Storm of 1913: The deadest storm to hit the Great Lakes you can read.
Episode 19: Todd Kohlhepp, Amazon Review Murderer and The Great Storm of 1913
Today’s podcast will be about a serial killer who also left reviews on Amazon regarding his murderous tools and a giant storm in the Great Lakes area that killed hundreds of people.
Our podcast is now available on Anchor, another platform.
A young girl named Hannah, she’s only 17-years-old, has a podcast called True Crime Within. She wants to work in criminology. Take a listen to her!
The Great Lakes Storm of 1913
This was a hard article to write and there were even little issues, like not being able to get information from the Coast Guard because we record early, and the government is shut down.
The average temperatures on the Great Lakes varies between the different lakes and depths, but on average, they are around 55-degrees Fahrenheit or between 12-13 degrees Celsius. During the fall months, cold and dry air comes down from Canada while warm and moist air comes up from the Gulf of Mexico and off the Lake waters. The cold air from the north hits the warm waters of the lakes and starts spinning. The winds will start a cyclone system that is fed by the warmth of the water and Gulf winds.
The weather systems that creates these storms are referred to as November Gales or November Witches. They can create 50-foot waves, release several inches of rain or snow, and maintain high-force winds. Since 1847, there have been 25 storms in the Great Lakes area that have taken human lives.
During a storm called The Big Blow of 1905, where there were 27 boats that were lost (read sunk). A storm in November 1975 was known to sink the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, with all crew members losing their lives. (You don’t just drown in the Great Lakes, you can also die of hypothermia.)
Gordon Lightfoot singing “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vST6hVRj2A
From November 7 to November 11, 1913 the Great Lakes area suffered through a huge storm. The storm would later earn the names Freshwater Fury, White Hurricane, and the Great Lakes Storm of 1913. The Great Storm was created when two major storm fronts collided over the waters, one with hurricane force winds and the other with a blizzard of snow. Meteorologists in the area had been taken by surprise when this happened. In the beginning of the week, the weather conditions were originally described as everything from ‘fair’ to ‘brisk’.
The weather conditions were extra dangerous as it would often have lulls in the wind causing people to put their guard down, and the storm itself was very slow to move out of the area. Usually, storms with such high wind velocities last for less than six hours. The Great Lakes Storm of 1913 lasted for multiple days, with hurricane grade winds lasting for 16 hours. The first few days were considered the pre-storm which lead to the growth of the actual ‘white hurricane’.
On Friday, the 7th, the storm had been rated ‘moderately severe’. The winds were getting faster and the temperatures had fallen quickly in the last 24 hours. By 10 a.m. the Coast Guard stations and the United States Department of Agriculture Weather Bureau offices had placed flag signals indicating a storm warning with northwestern winds.
Late in the same afternoon, they then signaled that there were hurricane winds over 74 mph heading into the area. There was a blizzard heading toward Lake Huron and winds over Lake Superior were already up to 50 mph.
The morning of Saturday, November 8th, had the storm upgraded to severe. At this point, the strongest portion of the storm was centered over the eastern portion of Lake Superior. The winds coming from the north were now blowing at up to 60 mph during gusts.
People began to set themselves up for disaster as sucker holes were created in the storm. (A sucker hole is a lull in a storm that leads people to believe the weather has broken.) Gale wind signal flags were up in over 100 ports on the lakes, but sailors were mollified into a false sense of safety by the clearer weather and the knowledge that storms of such a large magnitude usually don’t last very long and they had already been on alert for two days. They resumed their travels on the Lakes.
Noon on Sunday, the 9th, the lower Lakes were beginning to see gale force winds. However, barometric pressure began to rise, giving people hope that the storm was blowing over. This was all false hope.
The different storm fronts collided.
In the four hours between 8 p.m. and midnight, the storm became a weather bomb. (A weather bomb is the rapid deepening of cyclone winds and rainfall.) The winds had now kicked up to 70 mph across the four western lakes (not Lake Ontario, but Huron, Erie, Michigan and Superior). Consequently, major shipwrecks occurred on all the lakes except for Ontario.
(To memorize the five great lakes use “HOMES.” Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior.)
On the 9th, the worst of the wind is blowing over Lake Huron. Winds with gusts up to 90 mph and waves over 30 feet high, created whiteout squalls in the area as it began to also snow. Witnesses claimed that the waves were both high and coming in rapid succession, often three hitting at a time.
That day a rare phenomenon happened on the Lake Huron, where the wind was blowing in the opposite direction from the waves. This was due to the storm spinning like a cyclone.
Lake Ontario joins the super storm fray. The wind blowing over the Lake Ontario brought a blizzard with it, carrying it into eastern Ohio and Michigan.
The victims of the storm on November 9th, were found the morning of the 10th as snow and winds continued to batter the area. People saw large ships that were upside down in the water. One of the overturned boats, the Charles S. Price was the first fully loaded ore carrier to have capsized on a Great Lake. More boats sank in the storm, and 12 of them lost their entire crew.
Two hundred and fifty sailors died, some of their bodies later washing ashore to be buried.
The sailors on the Great Lakes weren’t the only ones affected. A recently built breakwater in Chicago, Illinois meant to protect the area from storms, was swept into Lake Michigan. Milwaukee, Wisconsin also lost a newly built breakwater in Lake Michigan. Cities around Lake Huron had four-foot-high drifts.
In Ohio, there were blizzards with snowdrifts six feet high in Cleveland. Streets were abandoned while people sheltered in place inside nearby buildings. Businesses took up to a week to burrow their way out of the snow. Power was out across Ohio, Michigan, and Ontario. Telephone and telegraph poles were knocked down, along with power lines, eliminating communication. When Cleveland rebuilt after the storm, the city started a decade-long project to move all utility cables underground.
As the storm blew through Tuesday the 11th, it lost its power and was downgraded to a regular storm.
The Great Lakes Storm of 1913 was the most destructive and deadliest natural disaster on the lakes in recorded history. It was been estimated that more than 19 ships were destroyed, 19 ships were stranded, and 250 people were killed. It was also a huge financial loss, with both the ships, their crew, and the cargo going missing, it cost the US about $5 million (around $127 million today).
The weather forecasters that worked during that time did not have the knowledge that we have today. Complaints came out against the USDA Weather Bureau, charging that they were ill prepared for the storm and did not communicate proper warnings. Later analysis of the storm and its impact changed how meteorologists and response teams handle storm preparedness and warnings.
Todd Kohlhepp, Amazon Review Murderer
Tod Kohlhepp was born in 1971 in Florida. He lived with his mother and step-father, although he did not get along with his stepdad. He had a troublesome childhood. At age nine he was diagnosed with explosive behavior and preoccupied with sexual content. He was an angry kid and when he was younger, he a goldfish by pouring bleach into its bowl. He spent 3.5 months in a mental hospital due to an inability to get along with others.
In 1983 he moved in with his biological father. Together they collected weapons. They did not have a good relationship.
In 1986, when he was 15, he kidnapped a 14-year-old girl in Arizona. He threatened her with a revolver, tied her up and abused her. Todd then walked her home and threatened to kill her siblings if she told anyone. She told. He went to prison for 15 years and had to register as a sex offender.
While in prison he was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. A judge stated that he was likely not to be rehabilitated. Todd gets out in 2001 and moved to South Carolina to be with his mother.
He graduated from college with a business degree in 2008. He also received a realtor’s license in 2006 after lying on the application about his criminal history. Todd built a business that received an award for doing good business. He also got a pilot license and bought several properties.
In 2016, he hired Kayla Brown and Charles Carver. They cleaned houses for him. Todd had them come to his property and Todd takes Charles and Kayla hostage. He then kills Charles and keeps Kayla. Later Todd claimed he killed Charles because he had a smart mouth. After Charles died, Todd kept Kayla in a shipping container. He had an elaborate plan to build a house with a soundproof room where he was going to keep Kayla.
During this time, Todd had gotten into Charles’ Facebook page and was posting under his name. Charles family didn’t think the posts were something Charles would write.
In 2016, Todd also confesses to what was called the ‘Superbike Murders’ that took place in 2013. Four people had died at a motorcycle shop. It was a huge cold case. Todd killed them after he tried to return a motorcycle he couldn’t ride. He had felt that the people in the shop were making fun of him. Todd told his mom it had to be done.
Side note: Todd’s mom was found dead in 2017 of was believed to be natural causes.
Todd also confessed to a 2015 murder of a couple named Megan and Johnny Coxie. They were buried on his property.
All together he confessed to seven murders to try to avoid the death penalty. Todd was given seven life sentences instead. After conviction he sent a letter to media saying there were more murders. He didn’t elaborate after that.
Todd had done Amazon reviews on his murder tools. Examples: For a foldable shovel, he said ‘Keep in car when you have to hide the bodies and you’ve left the full-sized shovel at home. Does not come with midget, would be nice.’ Todd’s chainsaw review, ‘Works excellent. Getting the neighbor to stand still while you chase them is hard enough without having an easy to use chainsaw.’ Stun gun review, ‘Great item. Seriously trying to find a reason to zap one of my agents for being lazy. It is going to be a new motivation tool’. He described one knife as ‘black as his soul’.
He reviewed over 140 murder items. Serial killers struggle to keep quiet.
Today’s two topics are the Todd Kohlhepp, a serial killer that left reviews for his murderous implements on Amazon, and the killer Great Lakes Storm of 1913. Find out more by listening to our podcast or reading the full show notes at MichiganandotherMayhem.com
Warning: This podcast occasionally contains strong language which may be unsuitable for children.
Continuing the conversation: This week we talked about Uber Murders and Assaults. After listening to this podcast will you use this service?
CBS This Morning Youtube Video talks about the Kalamazoo Michigan Uber driver who murdered by shooting random people between completing pick up customers.
You can read more about other incidences on Atchison Transport blog. The article lists incidents that have happened with Uber and Lyft, List of incidents with Uber and Lyft
Continuing conversation: This week we talked about Leslie Allen Williams who was a serial rapist and murderer. Do you believe the parole board should be held accountable for what Leslie Allen Williams committed?
Read the New York Times Article Parolee admits to killing 4 teenage girls
Serial rapist and murderer, Leslie Allen Williams, covered by the podcast My Favorite Murder
Read the TC Times article listing of what every woman should learn from Leslie Allen Williams to stay safe, Murder can and has happened here what every female should know about personal safety
Episode 18: Serial Killer Leslie Allen Williams, Uber Driver Assaults and Murders
Today’s podcast will be about Ali’s hometown serial killer and why it is dangerous to have anyone in the car that you don’t know.
Ali corrects herself: Before anyone corrects me… it hasn’t aired yet, so I get first go, I’m correcting myself. In the Oakland County Child Killer case, close to the end, I say that Kristine was the first female child killed, but she was the second one.
Also, I looked it up. Oprah’s channel is OWN. Oxygen just starts with an O.
Ali also showed up looking extra homeless with paint in her hair. She was worried they would crash on the way to record with Jenn, and police would believe she wasn’t his wife, but a hitchhiking homeless person.
Leslie Allen Williams, serial killer
In the early 1990s, for two years, there was a serial killer in Michigan that no one knew about until he told on himself in 1992. His name was Leslie Allen Williams.
Jenn and Ali talk about why serial killers tell others. Only they are excited about killing, not the people they tell.
I know that he graduated from my high school, decades before me because I looked him up in 1993, my senior year. I went to high school in Walled Lake, as his crimes were coming to light and more charges were being brought against him. In the commons area of my school, there was, maybe still is, a large collection of photos from all the senior classes. They were on the wall, the same way they display posters in a store. In my senior year in high school, I did the math on Leslie’s age and then flipped through the corresponding years, until I found his senior photo.
Leslie Allen Williams was born July 4, 1953, to Dorothy Williams and Lyle Young Williams. Lyle was Dorothy’s second husband. Dorothy had two daughters with her first husband. She also had three sons with Lyle, including Leslie. The boys were named Lyle Jr., Leslie, and Jay. (Why Jay? It breaks up the alliteration.)
Dorothy was a prostitute. Lyle told police that he knew his wife was a prostitute and he used to watch her with customers from the closet.
In 1957, Lyle was convicted of sexually abusing Dorothy’s two daughters, pleading guilty to the charges. He was sent to a hospital for the criminally insane in Ionia, MI.
Before Lyle left the hospital, Dorothy, Lyle Jr., and Leslie moved to California in 1959. Dorothy’s other son, Jay, and her two daughters went to live elsewhere. Dorothy and Lyle divorced in 1961 after he was released from his hospital term.
Dorothy married James E. Adams in 1962. Dorothy was shot to death by her third husband, James, shortly after they were married. He shot her in the head and then did the same to himself. I couldn’t find the exact date. (Unfortunately, Dorothy Williams shares the same name as a female serial killer who strangled elderly people. All my searches brought up the killer.)
Jenn has had similar problems while filtering through Youtube.
The two boys who had been living with Dorothy, Lyle Jr. and Leslie, then moved back to Michigan to be raised by their maternal grandparents in Milford, MI.
Leslie Williams was arrested, first, as a teenager. He was charged with breaking into a home. He first served time in 1971, around 18 years old, for breaking and entering, assault, and rape. Leslie became a habitual offender, spending 15 years in jail between 1971 and 1992. His offenses ranged from attempted breaking and entering, breaking and entering, larceny from an auto, assault, assault with intent to commit murder, and first-degree criminal sexual conduct.
In 1983, less than two weeks after he had been paroled, he attacked a woman with the threat to commit kidnapping, assault, and sexual penetration. With this assault, Leslie was given the official title of habitual offender, which means a possibility of life in prison. For the crimes he committed against the woman, Leslie received a sentence of 5-10 years for the various assault and kidnapping charges, and 7-30 years for being a habitual offender. He should serve 12-40 years, for these charges.
A habitual offender is a repeat offender, like a career criminal. Various states define habitual offenders with differentiating laws. Michigan’s Act 175 of 1927 states a habitual offender is someone convicted of 3 or more felonies, plus a lot more legal terms. http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(epa3sw4k2oj334jm5gvgfig5))/mileg.aspx?page=GetObject&objectname=mcl-769-12
Less than 10 years later, he’s paroled in 1990 with a positive recommendation from a therapist. Even Leslie Allen Williams was surprised at the speed of his parole. He had written to the parole board saying, “I had little confidence in gaining parole any time soon.”
He’s on parole and acting like a model citizen, reporting on time, and seeing a therapist.
In May 1992, he is still on parole, to be released in August on 1992. Leslie was seen kidnapping a woman at gunpoint from a cemetery where she was visiting her mother’s grave. He forced the 35-year-old woman into the trunk, threatening to rape and kill her.
Other people in the cemetery witnessed the abduction and called the police. The police were able to find him and pull him over.
While on the side of the road he tells the police officers that he should be “locked up” but doesn’t follow-up on the statement at that time. Then, Leslie confesses to killing four teenage girls between his parole in September 1990 so he was arrested again in May 1992.
Leslie’s former girlfriend called the police after his arrest for the latest kidnapping and showed a detective a field where Leslie had dumped her cat after killing it last summer. It was a few miles north of Oakwood Cemetery, in Fenton.
The body of Kami Marie Villanueva, an 18-year-old, from South Lyon, was found nearby the site. She had been choked to death, but Leslie claimed she had suffocated. (Choking is around the throat, and suffocating couple be compressing someone’s chest while covering their nose and mouth.) Leslie stated that he killed Kami immediately after abducting her.
Cynthia Jones, 15 years old, from Milford, was also found buried nearby. Leslie also claimed that she had been suffocated but police found that she had died of a stab wound. Leslie also asserted that she had been killed right after the abduction.
Two young sisters, with the last name Urbin, Michelle, who was 16, and Melissa, who was 14 years old, were also found. Leslie had the most information about the sisters as he stalked them after meeting them at a therapist’s office. The girls were from Tyrone Township in Livingston County. Leslie later said he saw the girls several times over multiple days as he cased houses to rob. He said that he was attracted to the way that Melissa, the 14-year-old, walked. Leslie came out of the bushes at the girls, with a knife, forcing them into his trunk. He raped and killed them within an hour of the abduction, according to Leslie. Leslie admitted to planning on killing the girls, before the abduction. Leslie told investigators that he also had sex with the victim’s bodies after death.
Leslie also admitting to peeping into women’s windows during this time.
Once the story was out, people were up in arms that a man with such a long conviction record had spent so little time in jail. Each time he was paroled, he immediately attacked women upon his release. The public was also riled that he did all these things while on parole, with no one knowing that he was serial killing young girls.
Leslie told detectives, “I don’t want to cause any trouble. I don’t want to cause taxpayers any grief. I want to be locked up. Lock me up so I don’t do it again. I have no control over my life.” Some people had sympathy for him because he had a hard childhood, but some experts say he was just showing guilt and remorse in order to manipulate the public’s opinion.
Personal Theory: He looks like a teddy bear in his mug shot and mixed with his guilty attitude, people were more likely to attack the parole system instead of him. The parole board dealt with more anger than the actual rapist and killer.
It didn’t help that authorities were initially seen as unapologetic over the parole and shortened prison terms. Kathryn Urbin, the mother of Michelle and Melissa said, “I have no anger towards Williams. It’s for the system which released him.”
The parole board defended their position stating that Leslie had a lot of “positive” factors in prison, including the completion of his high school degree, working towards an associate degree, employment in the prison factory for five years, and therapy participation for over a year. Instead of admitting their mistake, they doubled-down on how right they thought they were. Mistake.
After Leslie’s case, state legislators drafted paperwork to make the parole panel more accountable for their releases.
Other than the four teens, Leslie Allen Williams was accused of raping a 9-year-old girl in Wixom. He didn’t admit to the child initially but said he committed other assaults in which he believed the women did not come forward. The child rape case came through the courthouse where I (Ali) worked in my late teens in 1993.
I worked as a co-op as a senior. I went to school for four hours and then I went to work. I had been hired by the 52nd court, first division, in the criminal section. It was heaven for a true crime addict.
That is how I ended up looking a serial killer in the eyes. At the court, the clerks were told to close and lock all our internal doors while Leslie was in the building. He was a known woman murderer who said he can’t control his impulses and we were literally 99% women.
I waited for what felt like forever. I needed to get to the probation department, which was across the hall from the criminal department that I worked in. So, I opened the door just as the police were bringing him down the hallway… because I was just too dang impatient. I locked eyes with Leslie before we both looked down, and I stepped back into my department.
The is the closest I (Ali) have ever known to be near a serial killer.
Offender Tracking Information System (OTIS): http://mdocweb.state.mi.us/otis2/otis2profile.aspx?mdocNumber=130095
Uber Drivers Death and Assaults
Jenn has a few incidents to highlight.
Uber and Lyft are like taxi services. Today we will focus on Uber. Jenn will provide a long list of incidences for our Continuing Conversation piece.
In 2017, a 16-year-old girl in Illinois killed her Uber driver. Alyssa Wazney was at Walmart and steals a knife and a machete. She called for an Uber and a couple of minutes into the drive, she murdered him. Alyssa was looking to murder someone at that point. Someone called the police, Jenn wasn’t able to find out how they were contacted. The driver exited the car and was actively dying. Alyssa steals the Uber drive car, crashes it, and then runs behind a building. Police find her behind the building only wearing her leggings and a bra. She goes to jail.
In Michigan, 2016, Uber driver Jason Dalton shot eight people killing six. It was in Kalamazoo. He was driving his Uber route when he shot at people at a car dealership. After the shooting, Jason continues working picking up passengers. He then went to Cracker Barrel and killed some people in the parking lot. Jason then picks up his next ride and drives them to their destination. He is just intermittently shooting people. He is later apprehended leaving a bar that night. Right now they are deciding if he could use insanity as a defense.
In Denver, 2018, Michael Hancock was arrested on the suspicion that he fatally shot a passenger. He also called the police about the incident. He used a semi-automatic handgun.
In Atlanta, February 2018, an Uber driver claimed self-defense in shooting a passenger.
Dundee Florida, 2018, an Uber driver just graduated from a police academy and was able to carry a firearm. He picked up a drunk woman from the bar. Said a drunk woman is texting her boyfriend. The boyfriend is telling the drunk woman that he is going to hurt her Uber driver. The boyfriend finds them as they are driving and gets the Uber to pull over onto the side of the road. The boyfriend is aggressive, and the Uber driver gets out. Crazy aggro boyfriend threatens to shoot the Uber driver. Boyfriend reaches for something and is shot by the Uber driver. Turns out, he was reaching for his phone. Uber driver is let off on self-defense.
Today’s two topics are the Leslie Allen Willams, a serial killer Ali ran into, with assaults and murders committed by or that happened to Uber drivers. Find out how it all went down by listening to our podcast or reading the full show notes at MichiganandotherMayhem.com
Warning: This podcast occasionally contains strong language which may be unsuitable for children.
Piddly Podcast 5
Piddly podcasts are our mini-filler podcasts. These will include things like corrections, fan base contact shout outs, confessions, and short stories. These aren’t scheduled, they are little surprises when they arrive in your podcast queue.
Warning: This podcast occasionally contains strong language which may be unsuitable for children.
Today we have…
A troll. A troll in my family. I’ve decided to directly address the points that were brought up. One is why Jenn’s articles are shorter than mine are, and two is that I curse.
Jenn: “The reason I am not as detailed as Ali is for the following reasons: I have a son and a dog who for some reason still like to spend time with me, I work at a minimum of 72 hours a week, I attend college where I am working towards my Bachelors. Currently, I wake up at 5:00 AM and my head, on a good day, hits my pillow at 1:30AM.”
I, Ali King, only work 32-36 hours a week and I am married to a unicorn. My husband makes 99% of our meals, he cleans the house, fills my car with gas and clears it of snow. I have the time and the inclination for researching articles, so I do.
I also refuse to share my unicorn husband with his sister, which makes me the Wicked Witch of the Frozen North.
I would like to add that it was my idea to do the podcast and I’m just lucky Jenn said yes and then took over the technical work. Also, to clear up some of her time I would like to announce that we have our first employee, Poppy. That’s right, the sister that loves to correct me will now do it BEFORE the podcast. She’ll also be creating our Continuing the Conversation articles. Thank you, Poppy!
As far as the cursing goes, I curse. One of the first things I said to Jenn was that I wanted to curse on our podcast because I wanted to speak naturally. I naturally cuss. I get pumped over people in history.
There was a podcast pause because Apollo, Jenn’s big dog, busted down the door and came in the office.
Listen to another podcast if you don’t want curses. That is why our episodes come out with the E for explicit. Read our show notes at michiganandothermayhem.com if you want to learn about the subjects but you don’t want the swearing.
Virginia’s New Prison Policy
Virginia has a policy that female visitors can’t use tampons and enter the prison. They are given full body scans to determine if they are using a tampon. Women with tampons are given the option to pull out the tampon and relent to a full body search or leave.
Ali thinks this is because someone snuck something into the prison using nature’s pocket, the vagina. Jenn doesn’t think it is possible. Ali thinks Jenn should watch more prison movies. Vaginas are referred to as ‘nature’s pocket’ because it is our body’s only orifice that has an end point.
Carnivorous Plants of Michigan
Carnivorous means flesh-eating. I used to have Venus Fly Trap plants, but they were hard to keep alive as I had to buy distilled water for them, and they were sensitive to the environment. I did once kill a fly and then stimulate the plant so it would eat.
Michigan is home to three different carnivorous plants that grow naturally. We have Pitcher Plants, Sundews, and Bladderworts. Carnivorous plants grow through an adaptation when soil nutrients are poor. That messed me up a little, because we have deciduous forests, which are known for their rich soil, but Michigan’s carnivorous plants live in environments like acidic bogs and wet fens, which do have soil with low nutrients. These aren’t forest plants, they’re water plants.
Bladderworts are found in the wetter areas of wetlands. They lack root systems but have more of a floating stem system, which contain “bladders” which are small hollow sacs that capture and digest tiny aquatic animals. They digest insect larvae, aquatic worms, and water fleas. I’d like to think Bladderworts eat mosquito larvae and think that they are tasty.
Zigzag bladderwort in Michigan is a threatened species that is legally protected. There are very rare instances of them being spotted on the lower westside of Michigan. Floating Bladderwort in Michigan is even more rare. All the Floating Bladderwort in Michigan grows in a single, large coastal plain marsh that is in the state’s most southwest county, near Lake Michigan.
Bladderworts have delicate little yellow flowers that remind me of ballerina tutus, and grow out of stems that are tall, thin, and crooked. The stems remind me of a wizard’s walking stick.
Pitcher Plants grow to look like a pitcher or vase that is filled with rainwater and digestive enzymes. Insects are attracted to the plant’s nectar secreting glands. When insects investigate the source of that sweet, sweet nectar, they slip on the smooth walls of the pitcher, that often have small protrusions pointing down. The prey falls in, drowns or exhausts itself, and it slowly digested for nutrients. Pitcher plants in Michigan have been known to consume insects, spiders, and the occasional frog.
(A few years ago, I watched a documentary program that showed an Amazonian Pitcher Plant that had been digesting a mouse.)
Pitcher Plants can be found throughout the upper and lower peninsulas of the state. There is a page on CS Mott’s Children’s Hospital site that warns against people using Pitcher Plants as an herbal supplement. https://www.mottchildren.org/health-library/d05332a1
Sundews are a plant that grow similarly to Pitcher Plants, even alongside them in nature. Sundews have long leaves that form points, with what look like little hairs coming off of them. Each hair has what looks like a droplet of water on the end, but it is actually a very sticky mucus. Roaming insects become stuck on the hairs, and the hair produce extra glue-mucus to keep the insect anchored.
When an insect moves against the tentacle-like hair, the hair moves the stuck prey toward the center of the leaf. This can take a matter of minutes. Afterward, the leaf curls in on the insect, so it can be digested easier. This can take days for the Sundew to complete. The insect usually dies of exhaustion or the mucus from the hairs asphyxiates it.
Their flowers are white with five petals that grow out of the center of the rosette, which is made by the leaves. They are the most common carnivorous plant in Michigan. There is a type of Sundew, the Drosera linearis, (aka Linear-Leaved Sundew) which only grows in the Great Lakes regions. It thrives on the shores of Lakes Michigan and Huron.
Sundew fact: In England, in the late 1970’s, they did a study of Sundew flowers, finding that over 6 million insects were eaten by them in a two-acre area.
Anything that eats a mosquito is Ali’s friend. It reminds Jenn of “The Little Shop of Horrors”.