Can you guess this month’s natural wonder?
Discover nature through frogging. It’s a great way to introduce kids to hunting.
Frogging season begins June 30 at sunset and ends Oct. 31. Missouri has two frog species that are legal game — bullfrog and green frog.
The daily limit is eight frogs of both species combined, and the possession limit is 16 frogs of both species combined. Only the daily limit may be possessed on waters and banks of waters where hunting. Daily limits end at midnight, so froggers who catch their daily limits before midnight and then want to return for more frogging after midnight must remove the daily limit of previously caught frogs from the waters or banks before returning for more.
Frogging can be done with either a fishing permit or a small-game hunting permit. Children under the age of 16 and Missouri residents 65 years of age or older are not required to have a permit. Those with a fishing permit may take frogs by hand, hand net, atlatl, gig, bow, trotline, throw line, limb line, bank line, jug line, snagging, snaring, grabbing, or pole and line.
As you celebrate this summer, be extremely careful with fireworks, campfires, and other sources of fire that could cause a wildfire.
Don’t light fireworks in any areas where the sparks could ignite dry grass, leaves, or other potential fire fuel. Always have an approved fire extinguisher and an available water supply to douse sparks or flames. Wet the area around where fireworks are being discharged. Check with local ordinances and authorities for bans on fireworks and open burning.
Don’t burn during the wrong conditions. Dry grass, high temperatures, low humidity, and wind make fire nearly impossible to control. Check with local fire departments regarding burn bans that may be in place. A person who starts a fire for any reason is responsible for any damage it may cause.
Wildfires can start when dry fuel, such as grass, comes in contact with catalytic converters. Think twice before driving into and across a grassy field. Never park over tall, dry grass or piles of leaves that can touch the underside of a vehicle. When driving vehicles off road, regularly inspect the undercarriage to ensure that fuel and brake lines are intact and no oil leaks are apparent. Always carry an approved fire extinguisher on vehicles that are used off road. Check for the presence of spark arresters on ATV exhausts.
Clear a generous zone around fire rings. Store unused firewood a good distance from a campfire. Never use gasoline, kerosene, or other flammable liquid to start a fire. Keep campfires small and controllable. Keep fire-extinguishing materials, such as a rake, shovel, and bucket of water, close. Extinguish campfires each night and before leaving camp, even if it’s just for a few moments.
Call 911 at the first sign of a fire getting out of control.
Wildfires are sometimes set by vandals. Help stop arson by calling 800-392-1111 and reporting any potential arson activities. Callers will remain anonymous and rewards are possible.
Fire used in the wrong way can create disasters. Used in the right way, fire can help create habitat for wildlife. For more information on using prescribed fire as a land-management tool, visit short.mdc.mo.gov/ZqV.
Got a Question for Ask MDC? Send it to AskMDC@mdc.mo.gov or call 573-522-4115, ext. 3848.
Q: I recently noticed grass stems meticulously stuffed into holes bored into these logs. Do you know what might have caused this to happen?
A: This is likely the work of grass-carrying wasps in the genus Isodontia. In the early summer, adult female wasps emerge from their cocoons, mate, and locate suitable nesting sites. Each female collects grass blades and hay stems to line the cavity. Flying with the blades trailing, the queen lands at the hole and enters it, pulling the grass behind her. In this situation, it appears the wasps used tunnels bored by longhorned beetle larvae.
If the grass stems were to be removed, we suspect tree crickets and a few wasp larvae would fall out. These wasps are not aggressive, and these logs can be safely left in place until the larvae have a chance to develop and leave, which could be in a few weeks.
Q: When do eastern gray and eastern fox squirrels bear their young?
A: Depending on the vigor of the female, Missouri’s squirrels can have two litters in a year. Most litters are born in February or March and July or August. The female typically bears two to three young and is solely responsible for their care. If a nest is disturbed, she’ll often move them, grasping the babies by the loose belly skin with her teeth as they hang on with their legs and tail.
Q: I was in my garden taking photos when I saw this caterpillar. I started to brush it off the flower, thinking it was dried debris. Upon closer examination, I noticed it had collected bits of vegetation. I would love to know what it is.
This is the camouflaged looper caterpillar (Synchlora aerata). It is the only widespread caterpillar species that adorns itself with plant fragments — usually flower petals. Spiny projections on the caterpillar’s back hold the fragments in place. By camouflaging themselves in this manner, these caterpillars are less noticeable to hungry predators.
Underneath their petal costumes, camouflaged loopers have mottled black, white, and brown bodies. These caterpillars can be found in fields and other open habitats from southern Canada to Georgia. They feed on a wide variety of plants but are frequently seen eating the flowers of asters and raspberries.
This strange-looking caterpillar will transform into a small, beautiful moth called a wavy-lined emerald. These moths are pale green with wavy lines and are commonly seen throughout Missouri. Both caterpillars and moths of this species can be found from May through October.
About this time every year, berry pickers brave scratches and chiggers to collect juicy blackberries (Rubus allegheniensis) for pies, preserves, or just plain eating. Blackberries are produced on fast-growing, colony-forming shrubs, which can be found in rocky, open woods, along bluffs and fencerows, on glades, in thickets, old fields, and open valleys. Deep violet to black, these berries ripen between June and August, and the shrubs’ white flowers bloom between April and June.
Summer is a great time to discover nature, and there’s no better place to start the adventure than Missouri’s conservation areas. From hunting and fishing to hiking, bird watching, and nature viewing, the state’s conservation areas offer something for everyone. MDC areas are open for your enjoyment daily from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. If you are on an area for an authorized activity — like fishing — then you are permitted to remain beyond these posted hours. This rule is in place for the safety of all our visitors, to keep our areas clean, and for the protection of our fish, forest, and wildlife resources. Find an area near you at short.mdc.mo.gov/Z4V. Get out and discover nature!
The eastern red milksnake is one of Missouri’s nonvenomous snakes. Though found statewide, it may be difficult to see during the dog days of summer. It prefers the underground — animal burrows and large rocks — when temperatures rise. This species feeds on small mice and snakes, helping to control those populations.
Spotlight on people and partners.
With her handsstill red withpigment, Hinmanpauses outsideher watersheddemonstrationbooth at lastyear’s Shoal CreekWater Festival Surviving Joplin’s 2011 tornado inspired Hinman to get involved in nature programs that make a difference. She completed the Missouri Master Naturalist Program training, and a year later she became a Stream Team volunteer. She also helps out at local events.
Hinman loves to teach and write. In particular, she has a knack for showing how keystone species like crayfish hold a natural community together.
Conservation Education Consultant Jeff Cantrell appreciates her insights and skills. “I simply love having her on a project that deals with public outreach,” he said.
“If you’re seriously interested in helping others learn about nature, become a master naturalist. There are Missouri Master Naturalist chapters all over the state, and they all have training classes where you learn a lot about many different things. Another great program is Missouri Stream Team. These programs help me improve my small corner of the world.”
Starting July 1, hunters can apply for a chance at more than 100 managed archery, muzzleloader, and modern firearms deer hunts throughout the state. Hunts will take place from mid-September through mid-January and some will be held specifically for youth or people with disabilities. To apply, visit mdc.mo.gov/managedhunt.
The application period is July 1–31. Hunters are selected by weighted random drawing, and results will be available Sept. 1 through Jan. 15. Applicants who are drawn will receive area maps and other hunt information by mail.
Find more information in the 2018 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet, available starting in early July at MDC offices and nature centers, permit vendors around the state, and online at mdc.mo.gov.
Join MDC Director Sara Parker Pauley for a Facebook Live session on Wednesday, July 18, from noon to 12:30 p.m. and ask her questions on a variety of MDC topics. Then mark your calendar for another Facebook Live session on Wednesday, Oct. 31, from noon to 12:30 p.m. Join several conservation agents to ask questions and get answers on hunting, fishing, trapping, and other MDC regulations.
Join the conversations by going to our Facebook page at facebook.com/moconservation on the day and time of each session. Ask questions by posting them in the comments section.
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