Q: I’m attaching a photo of a large bug that was in my yard this morning. Can you tell me what it is?
A: The insect in your photo is an adult male eastern dobsonfly. Although ferocious looking and up to 5 inches long, the adult male insect is harmless because his large pincers don’t pinch. The female has much shorter pincers, but hers actually work, and she can inflict a painful bite. Both can fly and are often attracted to lights at night. The adult insects don’t eat and live for only a few days, which is why they are not more commonly observed. They mate and the female lays eggs before dying. Most of the insect’s life, 2 to 3 years, is spent in the larval stage, under rocks in a stream or river. The larval form is called a hellgrammite and is sometimes used by anglers as a fish bait. The 2-to 3-inch-long hellgrammites prey on the larvae of other aquatic insects and can bite humans with the sharp pincers on their heads.
Q: When I’m walking on gravel bars in Missouri’s streams, I frequently see tiny frogs hopping out of my way. Are those young or adult frogs, and what species are they?
A: You are most likely seeing the northern cricket frog, which is a small frog even as an adult—just over an inch in length. When approached, they will often hop into the water and then quickly swim back to the shore. They do not climb and are most often found on open, sandy or muddy edges of streams or ponds where they feed on a variety of small insects. Our website has more information, including an audio clip of its call at: mdc.mo.gov/node/2909.
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 email him at Ombudsman@mdc.mo.gov.
As a conservation agent it is our duty to protect our fish, forests and wildlife resources, including keeping our state waters litter free. Littering is a problem agents routinely face in the field. One state statute that people may not know is 306.325. This statute prohibits the possession of glass containers on state waters. The statute states any person entering, traveling upon or otherwise using navigable or nonnavigable waterways by vessel or innertube and transporting foodstuffs or beverages shall:
Punishment for littering law violations range from up to a $1,000 fine, 1 year in jail, and loss of hunting or fishing privileges or combination of all three. This law helps keep our waters clean, our wildlife healthy and allows people to enjoy these waters safely.
Through a coordinated effort between community members and the Missouri Department of Conservation, you can help keep our state waters clean by joining a local Stream Team (visit mostreamteam.org for more information) or contacting your local MDC office for information.
Will Carr is the conservation agent for Jasper County. If you would like to contact the agent for your county, phone your regional conservation office.
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