Ask the Ombudsman
Q: Is it true that daddy-longlegs are highly venomous, but their mouthparts or fangs are too small to allow them to harm humans?
A: No, that is a myth. Daddy longlegs, or harvestmen, are arachnids that are related to spiders, ticks and mites. Unlike spiders, harvestmen do not have any venom glands and they pose no threat to humans, pets, buildings or crops. They do have scent glands and may secrete a foul-smelling fluid when threatened. Feeding on soft-bodied insects and plant juices, they forage mostly at night as both predators and scavengers. During warm periods in the summer, they may be found in groups under eaves on the shady side of buildings. Harvestmen are eaten by large spiders, predatory insects and birds.
Q: Can you identify some strange growths that we found in our pond? They are somewhat spherical, sticky and have the texture of firm gelatin. There are tiny black specks all over the outside of them.
A: Your description matches that of invertebrate animals called bryozoans. The odd- looking, gelatinous blobs appear in some Missouri lakes, ponds and streams each summer. Worldwide, bryozoans are found on every continent except Antarctica–many live in saltwater environments. The tiny individuals in a colony are filter feeders, extracting plankton, bacteria and detritus from the water. The colonies can grow as large as basketballs but most are closer to softball size. They will float freely or attach to underwater rocks, limbs or dock supports. Amphibian and snail eggs are also in gelatinous masses but they are not firm-textured like bryozoans.
Although strange-looking, bryozoans are harmless and their presence usually indicates good water quality, as they are intolerant of pollution or muddy water. They can become a nuisance only if they attach to the insides of pipes or filters and impede the normal flow of water.
Ombudsman Tim Smith will respond to your questions, suggestions or complaints concerning Department of Conservation programs. Write him at PO Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180, call him at 573-522-4115, ext. 3848, or e-mail him at Ombudsman@mdc.mo.gov.
Great family memories are made in Missouri creeks.
As a young boy growing up in Osage County, my friends and I would head for the nearby creek during the summer months. Sporting a pair of old tennis shoes, cutoff jeans and a fishing pole, we would wade several miles searching for the deep holes which normally held lots of fish. We often used a yellow rooster tail to catch the green sunfish, a worm to catch a bullhead, or a freshly caught crawdad to catch a largemouth or smallmouth bass. The creek provided hours of entertainment for us, fish for our dinner table, and memories that would last a lifetime.
With July being one of the hottest months, creeks still provide fun for the entire family. Whether catching a nice mess of fish, taking a dip to cool off, or flipping a rock, I recommend taking your family or friends out to a nearby creek this summer.
While enjoying the creek, keep in mind the fishing regulations. The daily limit and length limits vary for black bass and some other species of fish depending on the creek, stream or river in which you are fishing. The daily limit for all nongame fish is 50 in the aggregate. For complete information about fishing seasons, limits and methods, consult the Wildlife Code or your local conservation agent or visit mdc.mo.gov/node/3104. As always, remember to get permission before entering private property. Take time this summer to discover what Missouri’s creeks have to offer.
Kurt Heisler is the conservation agent for Morgan County. If you would like to contact the agent for your county, phone your regional Conservation office listed on Page 3.
To view fishing and hunting seasons, visit www.missouriconservation.org/seasons
For complete information about seasons, limits, methods and restrictions, consult the Wildlife Code and the current summaries of “Missouri Hunting and Trapping Regulations” and “Missouri Fishing Regulations,” the “Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information,” the “Waterfowl Hunting Digest” and the “Migratory Bird Hunting Digest.” This information is on our Web site at www.MissouriConservation.org/regs and at permit vendors.
The Conservation Department’s computerized point-of-sale system allows you to purchase or replace your permits through local vendors or by phone. The toll-free number is 800/392-4115. Allow 10 days for delivery of telephone purchases. To purchase permits online go to www2.mo.wildlifelicense.com/start.php.
Apply for Managed Deer Hunts
The Conservation Department offers numerous managed deer hunts for archery, crossbow, muzzleloading and modern firearms from mid-September through January. Youth hunts and special hunts for persons with disabilities are also available. These hunts are part of why Missouri is a great place to hunt.
For more information on managed hunt offerings and to apply, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/2458. You can also find more information in the Fall Deer and Turkey booklet available this month at permit vendors and MDC offices. Permits are available to successful applicants beginning Sept. 14.