Q: I’ve noticed some odd, salmon-colored, fuzzy growths on the leaves of my oak tree. What are they, and what should I do to prevent them?
A: It sounds like you have a type of gall on your oak leaves called the fuzzy bead gall. Galls are abnormal growths on leaves or twigs and come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors. They can be caused by the egg-laying of several types of insects, by feeding mites or by fungi, bacteria or viruses. The gall is the growth of the tree that somewhat isolates the damage from the invading organism. The fuzzy bead gall results from the feeding of microscopic mites. The galls should not do any significant damage to your tree. There is no need to take any action unless you want to burn or remove the fallen leaves in the fall. That may reduce the number of galls you have next year.
Q: While driving on a south-central Missouri highway, I saw a huge spider crossing the road. It had a dark-colored body about 2 inches long and, with the legs, was about 5 inches across. My first guess was a tarantula. What do you think?
A: I expect that you did see a tarantula because late summer and fall is the most likely time to see them on southern Missouri roads. They tend to wander at this time of the year. Called the Texas brown tarantula, it is Missouri’s largest spider, and it can be found in areas south of the Missouri River. When not wandering, they spend their days in silk-lined burrows in abandoned rodent or reptile tunnels or other natural cavities. They are mostly active at night, feeding on crickets and other small insects. Missouri tarantulas are not aggressive toward humans and tend to frequent habitats where they are seldom encountered.
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.
With the busy fall hunting seasons right around the corner, this is the perfect time to dust off your firearms or bows and practice. I have talked to many people who “just barely” missed their shot at the game they were hunting. When I have asked if they practiced with their firearm or bow, many times the answer was “no.” Practicing with your hunting tool of choice increases your chance of success.
The Missouri Department of Conservation has more than 70 public ranges available for your practicing needs. Details on these ranges including their rules, hours of operation, and more may be found at mdc.mo.gov/node/6209. You can also contact your regional conservation office for more information about public shooting ranges.
Here are some tips to remember if you plan on practicing with your firearm or bow. First and most important, remember your firearm/bow safety rules and follow them. Always point your muzzle or arrow in a safe direction. Wear the clothes you expect to wear during your hunt. Bulky clothing may affect your shot accuracy. Use the same ammunition or arrows that you plan on using during your hunt. Practice ammunition or arrows may be less accurate than those you will use on your hunt. Finally, be patient and take your time.
I hope a little practice will bring a greater experience to your hunt this fall. I look forward to meeting many of you at our great public shooting ranges. If you have not yet taken the Missouri Hunter Education Class, now is a great time to find a course near you or take the online course. To find more information about Hunter Education, go to mdc.mo.gov/node/3722.
Adam Arnold is the conservation agent for Clinton County. If you would like to contact the agent for your county, phone your regional conservation office.
Conservation makes Missouri a great place to hunt and fish, and enriches our quality of life. National Hunting and Fishing Day is a time to enjoy the successes of our conservation legacy. We encourage you to go visit a shooting range, hunt or fish, Saturday, Sept. 22 as outdoors enthusiasts nationwide take the time to show their appreciation for the work done by sportsman and conservation leaders both past and present. MDC will be hosting two events to commemorate the day.
Missouri has a rich history of conservation work and dedicated sportsmen. This year marks the 75th anniversary of MDC. In that time, MDC has become a national leader in forest, fish and wildlife resource management and restoration, and hunter and angler recruitment. To learn more about MDC’s science-based conservation work, read the feature article starting on Page 10. To learn more about MDC’s citizen-led conservation efforts over the past 75 years, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/16137.
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