Summer Q&A With a Naturalist
June Nature Boost Podcast
>> Hey there and welcome back to Nature Boost. I'm Jill Pritchard with the Missouri Department of Conservation.
We are in the middle of summer which is crazy because it feels like just a few weeks ago I had my winter coat on. It's weird.
I thought it would be really fun to do an episode on common questions that we receive in the summertime from the public. I have mentioned in the past that another part of my job is to help manage MDC's social media pages. We field a lot of questions from you guys on our Facebook and Twitter and Instagram pages.
On the flip side, I wanted to invite someone here to talk about the questions that MDC gets from the public in person. Here with me is my good friend Sarah Easton, she is a naturalist at Runge Nature Center here in Jefferson City. I'm so happy to have her join me today to answer some common questions that we get from you guys in the summertime. Sarah, thank you so much for being here with me today.
>> Absolutely. I'm excited. I feel so honored. It's such an honor for me to join you on the podcast.
>> Oh, thank you! Well I'm so happy to have you here and I think this could be a cool thing that we could continue to do maybe through the seasons. You know?
>> Yeah, absolutely.
>> As the year goes on . . . common questions and concerns that people have.
We are in the summertime. I want to talk about birds first. Because everybody loves birds. A common question that we receive and I'm sure you get at Runge Nature Center from visitors is, "Hey, what happened to [insert bird here] . . .?" You know? Where are they? Where have they gone? And this time of year, hummingbirds.
You know, people will say, "Oh, I used to have a lot of hummingbirds last year but now I don't have any anymore, what happened to them?"
>> Yeah, absolutely. We get that question. We get that question all the time. Especially early in the summer. Early in the summer you know, think about what are they eating? They are going for nectar. Early in the summer a lot of that stuff is still blooming. They have plenty of natural food sources, right? We don't see them as much at feeders early in the summer. Now as we get later in the summer and those mid summer blooms are starting to die off, they will be frequenting your feeders more because they have less natural options available. Usually we see a spike in those hummingbirds later in the summer.
They are also sort of gearing up to migrate as well. They need a lot of extra energy.
>> Okay, so on the topic of hummingbirds this has been a big question "is the food coloring in the feeder." You know? Is red food coloring bad? Is it okay to use? Let's talk about that.
>> Yeah! So, I would say at the least end of things, it's unnecessary and unnatural. At the other end of the spectrum, you know, it could be dangerous and cause disease in hummingbirds. We don't really know for sure where it falls on that spectrum. There has been really minimal amounts of actual scientific research on scientific dyes and hummingbirds. But there is enough anecdotal evidence to recommend against it. We strongly recommend not using any type of hummingbird food that has that red dye 40 in it.
Like I said, you might be causing problems and diseases in the hummingbirds. But even if it's not, it's unnecessary. They don't need it. Just having that red, usually any feeder that you are using has enough red on it to attract the hummingbird. The nectar, the juice, the sugar water inside doesn't need to be red as well. So, it's totally unnecessary and just another unnatural thing that we are introducing into their diet. So if it is unnecessary why do we need to keep doing it?
>> That's true! Most hummingbird feeders already have some type of red coloring on them anyway.
>> Yeah, that should be enough to get them to the feeder. If you'd like to stop buying the nectar in the store, what's a good recipe for making your own for hummingbirds?
>> Actually it is . . . not only can you make it at home so it doesn't have that red dye but it's also a lot cheaper.
>> Yeah, I would think so.
>> Yeah, I mean that commercial dye might be several dollars for a gallon. You can make it at home for almost pennies to a gallon. I make mine at home with just a 4:1 ratio. So four cups of water to one cup of sugar. There also used to be evidence that you should boil it into water and stuff like that. Honestly, they are saying you don't really need to do that anymore. I don't either. I just use hot water from the faucet and mix my sugar and water and mix it up really good. That's all I do.
>> Really? You don't even need to boil it?
>> No, no.
>> Oh, nice!
>> Hot enough water to dissolve it. But no, it is not totally necessary to boil it.
>> Is there a way to keep it in the fridge for a while?
>> Yeah, it will keep for a couple days.
>> Yeah, because I have tried to do it. I have found that it does not keep as long as I thought it would.
>> No, and I'm sure you know probably the homemade recipes are not keeping as long as the commercial stuff. You can probably keep that commercial stuff in your fridge for a lot longer probably because it has some unnatural things in there.
>> Right. Some preservatives and yeah . . . that's true.
>> Like I said, it's pretty cheap to just mix up that 4:1 ratio. I do that about once a week.
The other important part that I can't move on from bird feeders without mentioning is that if you are going to have bird feeders out . . . whether it be you know hoppers, normal seed feeders, or hummingbird feeders or anything like that. Please clean them! Please make sure they are clean every week or couple weeks taking them down and making sure they are clean. Anytime we have a lot of birds coming to one point they can be spreading diseases and bacteria and things like that.
We want to be . . . I assume you have a birdfeeder out because you want to be helping the birds. So, helping them instead of hurting them and keeping the feeder clean is the way to do that. You can kind of do a spot cleaning maybe every other week or so. Depending on how frequently your feeders are being used. But I definitely would at least take it down and actually clean it with some mild soapy water every once in a while. Just like I said I mean because if you are doing that, you don't want to have the opposite effect.
>> That's true! And another thing is too not to be gross but a lot of birds . . . I have a Shepherd's hook with two bird feeders. They will perch on top and then you know they will do their business right on the feeders.
>> It's a full service place.
>> Yeah! So that's . . . you don't want them to be eating that off of there. Good point to bring up.
While we are on the topic of birds, this coincides with our message of leaving wildlife wild. Sometimes birds make nests in not the best places. I've had friends and family members who have gotten nests made like on the wreaths of their front doors. They are like, yeah there is like a nest in there now. You know, what do I do? Can I move it? Can I not move it? What can you tell us? Give us some guidance on some of that.
>> Yeah! So two things when I first heard you mention this question I thought of right off the bat. The first one I think is really important to consider that a lot of people don't really know or don't think about is that birds don't use nests like homes like we do. They are not returning to that nest every night. It's not like they are coming home and tucking themselves into bed into their nest. They are really only using nests during the breeding season.
I mention that because if you have a bird that is nesting on your deck or on your porch or somewhere that is inconvenient. She or they will not be there for very long. You know? They will be there for the breeding season and then they will vacate that nest once their eggs have hatched and their babies have fledged. They won't be back to that nest.
So if at all possible, I would encourage you to wait. Just to be a little bit patient and let them get through that breeding season. Once they've vacated, once the babies have fledged and left the nest, you can take it down and remove it. That's not going to bother them at all.
I mention that because most birds with the exception of game birds and things like that. All our songbirds are federally protected. It actually is illegal.
>> Right, it's kind of against the law.
>> It is against the law to move those nests or harass those birds in that way. Now, obviously there are exceptions and if that bird is a threat or something like that. You know, there are exceptions for that. But I would argue that just being a little inconvenient for you is not really considered a threat.
Just being that back to that first point. If at all possible, you know, just let them get through what they need to get through in their breeding season and they will be gone shortly after.
>> And to me, whenever that happens while yes, like you say, inconvenient. It's also kind of special.
>> Oh yeah.
>> That you are getting . . .
>> Have you seen a baby bird? It's so ugly it's cute.
>> It's so true. They are so ugly but their ugliness is what makes them cute.
>> Oh yeah. The big beak when they open their mouth because they think they are getting food. It's just the whole side of their head.
>> It is! Yeah! Absolutely. And you kind of get to witness this special moment firsthand. I realize that oh it's on my front door or oh it's on my porch light and you know they are pooping. But oh, it's only for a short period of time and this is kind of cool that you are able to watch this kind of lifecycle a little bit.
>> How honored that they felt comfortable enough to build a nest at your house.
>> That's such a good way to look at it! I love that! Like you should be flattered.
>> Yeah! That is such . . . that's beautiful, Sarah.
>> It's a cool experience. I remember, I think just last year, my parents had nests built under their deck. Their deck you know was on the second story and it was built under the deck so they could actually look through the slats of their deck right into the nest. My dad would text me updates everyday.
>> I love that.
>> They are this big now. It is a cool experience. And like I said, they won't be there for very long. Especially songbirds have a very quick turnaround. If you can be a little patient and just accept that that's a way that we are going to live with nature. Right? I think one thing that we all have to focus on and change as a culture is how we are going to continue to live with nature.
Letting a bird nest on your porch might be the first step.
>> Aww, yes! I love that! That's a beautiful message. Yeah, absolutely. I totally agree.
A big big thing, spring and summer. Really this could be all year round too, is: I found an abandoned animal, an injured animal . . . I want to help. What should I do?
I want to give a shoutout to human beings because we all have a soft spot for animals, especially young animals. This episode will air in mid-July. Usually you find more young animals in the spring and everything. But this is a good message for all times of year, especially if you think you found an injured animal or you want to help. We want to bring them into our homes and we want to be there for them but a lot of times we are doing more harm than good.
So let's talk about that. I know that you get this a lot at Runge, too. I'm sure . . .
>> #1 question I would say.
>> You think so?
>> Probably. I mean I haven't run the statistics but . . . I would say yeah. This is probably our #1 phone call for sure. Especially in the spring, like you said. You know, I found a baby bird, I found a baby rabbit, I found a baby deer, you know, a fawn is in my yard. We so much appreciate those people that call and ask us. You know?
Because for us it is like, hey, they care.
>> They care! Exactly.
>> You know? And as we will get to in a minute, we might not always give them the answer that they want to hear, that they like. But we will never be upset for someone calling and asking because we would rather you care and call and ask and be curious . . .
>> And learn!
>> Than just you know, ignore it.
>> . . . and go on. That might be a different kind of problem. People that aren't even paying attention to the natural world around them. I did want to make that note before we got too much further into this question. Because we appreciate that you care.
However . . . with that being said, I will tell you if you give us a call, probably the answer you will get is that we will encourage you to leave it be. There are obviously exceptions and we can kind of talk a little bit about that. But, more often than not, the best thing that we can do for that animal is to not interfere with it and to leave it alone. Partly because a lot of times we are not even sure that it needs our help. Right?
And that's one thing that's kind of hard for us to determine over the phone. When we are talking to someone and they say, "Oh, I found a baby rabbit." Well actually rabbits are fine on their own after four weeks. You know? Like they might only be four to five inches long, but mom is out of there. She's gone. That rabbit is on its own. So to us, we see this tiny little baby rabbit and he's so cute. But he's doing exactly what he is supposed to be doing.
Or you know, a fawn, that's another one we get calls about a lot. I can understand from a human perspective. You know, human parenting we are like, "Hey, where's your mom?" But the way that deer are programmed, the doe will leave the fawn for pretty much the whole day. She will find a nice place for him, sit him down, tell him to stay tight. She will leave for pretty much the whole day. That fawn will stay in that one spot until she comes back.
People think, "Oh, I see this fawn in my yard and it's abandoned." Well, no, it's not. It is doing exactly what it is supposed to be doing.
That's kind of the first thing we try to assess. Hey, does it actually even need help? Or is it doing what it needs to do?
>> Right, it's just living its life and yeah. It's doing its thing.
>> Right. Right. But, of course, there are instances where there is an animal that is probably not going to make it or something like that.
You do have to have that kind of difficult conversation for some people about nature being nature. You know?
>> It's not pretty. Like you said, you know, we have big hearts and especially soft spots for animals. But, that's happening and it is an important part of our ecosystem. It's keeping a balance in nature. Nature is doing a perfectly good job of that without us interfering. Sometimes we have to let that happen.
>> That's the reality of it.
>> Yeah. Absolutely.
>> That is how nature has survived. Not to sound insensitive, but when one animal passes that means it can be food for another animal.
>> Right, absolutely. That's happening all the time around us.
>> You're just seeing it now.
>> It might not be happening in your front yard until right now. So, you know, I think that is something we have to consider. That's what is making the natural world go round. We are just seeing it in this one instance.
>> We do have wildlife rehabbers across the state. When people call you, when do you recommend contacting a wildlife rehab facility?
>> So when we are talking to someone and we determine you know that the animal does need assistance, maybe in an inconvenient place or needs some type of human intervention. We do have wildlife rehabbers around the state. I would strongly suggest you call a nature center or an MDC office. We actually keep an updated list of all of those rehabbers across the state. That is accessible through our internal web pages. Anyone can access that from an MDC office or something like that.
I just mention that because those rehabbers do have to have special permits. Not anyone can just take in baby animals and things like that. That list is constantly being updated by our permits division and making sure that those rehabbers are staying up to date on their stuff. That's why I mention you know, call a nature center or an MDC office or something like that. We can find a licensed rehabber in your area and get you their contact from that point.
>> The right professional people who have the experience, who have those permits, who know what they are doing.
>> Right. Exactly. Exactly. I mean that can be a full time job in itself. That is a big venture to go down that road.
>> A big responsibility.
>> Oh yeah, absolutely. Time, and money, and resources. So, like I said, we are not all equipped to do that. And that's kind of more from a human perspective but think about that animal. You know, that animal is not meant to be in your home. It is a wild animal, it has wild instincts.
>> And it can carry disease.
>> Oh yeah.
>> You know, you are kind of bringing that into your home. You don't want that in your home. Yeah, it's cute but the main message . . . leave it to the professionals. I'm really glad that you mentioned that all our offices and nature centers have that updated list of those rehab facilities that we can direct you to that are professionals and that have that experience. That's good information to share.
Just enjoy the sighting. You can take your pictures and videos. But like you say, that is where it should end.
Alright. So, getting back to some of our other popular questions. And concerns. While we are talking about wildlife and the wildlife sightings, we don't want to interfere. This is a big topic, a big animal.
>> I know where you are going.
>> Yes, you do! I think it is important to talk about the black bears. We're seeing our black bear population expanding. It is increasing, and then their range is expanding, too. We are getting so many sightings in more populated areas.
I'm sure as their numbers increase, these sightings will increase, too.
>> Oh yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely.
I do want to put that in perspective, though. Because we hear it on the news, and it hits the news cycle for awhile. You're like, "Oh my gosh there is black bears everywhere!" We are estimating about 950 black bears I think in the state. Put that in perspective. You know, 950 black bears across the whole state of Missouri. If you put that number in people, it wouldn't seem like very much.
While sightings are increasing, that number is still relatively low. It's growing steadily and at a healthy rate. There are black biologists that are estimating that the population is growing about 9% a year. That is considered a healthy rate of growth. Like you said, they probably will continue to wander into our areas and that kind of goes back to what we touched on earlier.
How do we live with wildlife in the same space?
A lot of those bears that we are seeing that are getting sighted are young males just looking for their own space. More often than not, they are just moving through. If you don't harass them or give them a reason to stop and bother you they are harmless.
However, black bears, the bears that we have here in Missouri, are also very very opportunistic feeders. They will eat anything.
>> That's what that means by opportunistic. They are going to take any opportunity to eat. They're not picky.
>> Right, absolutely. In the wild they eat a range of things. They do eat sources of meat and stuff like that. But they eat fruits, and nuts, and insects and plants. So in the wild, they are still very opportunistic in the wild. But then we introduce like yummy candy wrappers and bird food and stuff like that.
>> Discarded hot dogs.
>> It's a smorgasbord. The problem comes when those young males are moving through looking to establish their own tertiary and on their way through they see an open trash can. Or something like that. Then they don't have a reason to keep moving on because they're like, "Hey, why would I go anywhere else? This has everything I need." That's when we start to see them. A lot of times if one is sighted in an urban or suburban area, people will keep sighting it for the next several days because like I said he doesn't really have a reason to move on.
>> Whenever they find that human food, they will start to associate humans with food and then that just kind of exacerbates the problem, correct?
>> Yes, absolutely. It is a little harsh but there is a saying that a fed bear is a dead bear.
>> Not only is that in reference to them they are forgetting their natural sources of food. But also it has to do with bears that are associating humans with food and can become more aggressive. That's when we see problems is when a bear is associating humans with food and then you know getting into trash and getting into your stuff.
>> Right or even trying to come into your home or your garage.
>> And then that bear has to be put down or dispatched.
>> Right, yes.
>> So a fed bear is a dead bear in a couple different ways. You know, all that being said, they are for the most part harmless. Unless it is finding those sources of food. To combat that, we really just tell people if you know you are in bear country or if there has been a bear sighted in your area, maybe take your bird feeders in for a little while.
>> Until the sightings have died down. The bear has passed. Pick up pet food and stuff like that. Don't leave your dog's food out at night. Secure your trash. Things like that. Just to minimize opportunities that he or she could be finding food at your house.
>> Now you say bear country. Where exactly is bear country in Missouri?
>> I was thinking about this because, you know, I will repost stuff that the MDC posts on my personal Facebook and try to remind my friends and family. Hey, Missouri is bear country now. I will always say that.
>> I will say, Missouri is bear country. Well I have a friend who went to Missouri State . . . who always takes the opportunity to give me a jab because I went to Mizzou.
>> He goes, "Oh, so Missouri IS bear country?" because they are the Bears. Not what I meant.
No, in a very serious sense really all of Missouri can be bear country. You know, it is not to say that bears can't be found in northern Missouri. Primarily our population of bears are in the southern part of the state, mostly below I-44ish. But, as you mentioned earlier, they are expanding and they are moving northward. As that population is growing and we are getting more young males, they are looking to establish their own territories and a lot of time that means moving north a little bit. So you know, it is not unreasonable to see a bear north of I-44. Really the southern part of the state is where the bulk of the population is.
>> A big thing we get on social media. I'm sure you have gotten this, too. MDC did not introduce bears to Missouri. People think that we released the bears. The bears were already here.
They were almost extirpated from the state years ago from the logging industry and then also from unregulated hunting. But, their numbers have increased since then and then even bears from Arkansas have kind of migrated up. So, MDC did not reintroduce bears to Missouri.
>> Yeah, absolutely true. Yeah there definitely was a remnant population. Arkansas did reintroduce bears. So, that is part of our population boom has been from the Arkansas boom and you know, we talked about them coming northward while they think about what is to our south? Arkansas. Their growing population has expanded into our southern part of the state as well. So, that has part to do with it.
Then, we have also been paying a lot more attention and doing studies and research on these bears so we have a much better idea of the actual population estimates and things like that. Whereas before that wasn't true. We started kind of a long term population study in I think 2010. So paying a lot more attention to the overall population now even to the point where we have a hunting season.
>> Right! Absolutely. Yeah. Magnificent animals.
>> So cool.
>> They are so cool and it's cool that we get the chance to see them here in Missouri again. Good to know about a fed bear is a dead bear. Lock up all of your food. You don't want those human encounters if possible.
>> Another thing, we think about bears coming to our house and getting into our stuff. The flip side of that is when you are out camping or hiking in bear country, in that southern part of Missouri primarily . . . how can you be bear aware as they call it? My note about that is that bears are very smart animals. They have an amazing sense of smell and pretty good hearing. Most of the time, if you are just making your human amount of noise and your human amount of scent that bear will be long gone before you even realize how close it was to you.
If you feel the need to take extra precautions, hike in groups and make excessive noise. My boss always talks about how he likes to sing when he is in bear country. He will just sing as he hikes.
>> Kevin Lohraff. He has also been on the podcast. Immediately I knew. That sounds like Kevin.
>> He just sings. He wants to serenade a bear, I guess.
>> Gosh, that guy is a national treasure.
>> Just consider that as well. I can't believe I have to say it but based on our conversation earlier, if you do encounter a bear please don't approach it.
>> Please do not approach it.
>> Yeah. Would you say they are more afraid of us? They don't necessarily want to be where we are.
>> Oh no, absolutely not. And that's what I alluded to earlier. Like they are going to be long gone. I mean if you do spot a bear, consider that kind of an honor. Because like I said, they are pretty sneaky. They know what they are doing. They are going to be out of there before you are anywhere close.
>> Enjoy the sighting but again let's leave it at that. Let's be smart about living with wildlife.
>> Yeah, absolutely. Alright. Good to know. Good stuff to know about our black bears.
Let's get into some more nitty gritty stuff with the summer. A big barrier . . . a lot of people don't like the summer because that is when the itchy and scratchy stuff come out. We got the ticks, the mosquitoes, it's hot, it's humid, there's bugs biting you.
>> Nature is the worst.
>> Like anything there are some drawbacks. You've got the poison ivy. You want to be outside, but you don't want to deal with that type of stuff. So how do I protect myself from the stuff that wants to bite me and suck on me and make me itchy? Yeah. The ticks and all of that.
>> Do you have any tips that we can share?
>> A couple, a couple. First, I would say don't let that deter you from getting outside. I mean, I know that it can seem kind of annoying or scary even. But that is such a minimal thing in the long run of getting out and enjoying all of the resources we have, especially in the state of Missouri. So please don't let that keep you from getting outside.
But if you are concerned and worried . . . for the insect side of things we talk about the 4 D's. Like the letter D. The first one being Dress. So thinking not like you are wearing a dress, probably not the greatest idea to wear a dress outside. But think about what you are dressed in. We really recommend lightweight clothing. Not only does that keep you cool in the summer, but lightweight and light colored clothes help you see ticks and stuff on your pants a lot better.
>> Oh yeah!
>> So you can pick them off and get rid of them. Then covering your exposed skin. You know, if you can, wear long sleeves and long pants. Another reason you want them to be lightweight.
>> Right, right. Don't want to overheat.
Covering those exposed areas of skin. Then treat your clothes with insect repellents. You can spray . . . the next D is for DEET.
>> Yep, okay.
>> We will talk about that more but you know you can spray your clothes with insect repellent like deet or you can actually treat your clothes if you are outside a lot. If you are working outside or doing something like that and you have field clothes that you wear you can actually treat your clothes with permethrin which is a repellent. Consider what you are wearing.
Then the next D being DEET or any kind of insect repellent. Right? We talk about DEET a lot because it does . . .
>> That's the strong stuff.
>> That's the good stuff. You can also use . . . there are a couple others. Or if you want a more natural option, lemon oil, and eucalyptus.
>> I think I have heard that!
>> It has been proven to repel insects. So that is definitely an option for a more natural approach. But applying those repellents to your skin and checking the label on that and making sure you are using it appropriately.
So we've got D for Dress, and D for DEET. D for Dawn/Dusk. Just being a little more cognizant that dawn and dusk are usually high times for biting insects.
>> Why is that? Why is it those times of day that they are most popular?
>> Well when you are going out in the summer, when would you want to go out?
>> Yeah, that's true whenever it's less hot.
>> When it is cooler.
>> That makes sense.
>> It is a catch 22 because that is when we like to be outside but also when all the insects like to be outside.
>> Gosh, they are smart! Dang it!
>> Limiting that outdoor time at dawn or dusk or just being more prepared. Right?
Then the final D applies specifically to mosquitoes but it is Drain, as in draining water.
>> Okay. Right.
>> Mosquitoes breed in standing water. So draining any type of standing water that you have around your property if that is a bird bath, or you know you have a small puddle area of your yard that holds the water.
>> Or a little kid's swimming pool or something that has been out there.
>> Yeah, probably should dump that one out. You know, I will say if there is any positive to a drought. We are having less mosquitoes this year.
>> That's something. Yeah.
>> I try to take the positive out of it.
>> I like it. Silver lining.
>> That is true. There are less amounts of standing water around. I'm noticing less mosquitoes this year. Maybe that is anecdotal.
>> Yeah, I think I have too.
>> I think I have too. Yeah. It probably is directly related to the drought. But if I want to keep a bird bath out, should I just drain it at those times? Or only keep water in it during the heat of the day or what would you say?
>> You know what I would actually tell you is to invest in some type of little water pump or something like that.
>> Oh I see.
>> They actually have these cool ones. I have it in my Amazon cart. I haven't ordered it yet.
>> Pull the trigger already!
>> They have these solar powered ones that kind of just float. It looks like a small plate and it has solar panels around the edge and it floats in your bird bath and kind of makes a small fountain. One, that will keep the water moving so the mosquitoes don't breed in moving water.
>> Oh, right, right.
>> But also birds are much more attracted to moving water like the sound of running water and stuff like that. So that will attract a lot of birds to your backyard.
>> Double whammy! It will keep the mosquitoes away. You have to buy it and send me the link so I can buy it.
>> Those were the 4 D's to think about for insects and mosquitoes. Dress, DEET or insect repellent, Dusk/Dawn, and then Drain.
The one other note I wanted to make about insects in particular is please don't use a bug zapper.
>> Oh let me tell you. I'm talking about the ones that have the UV or black light kind of thing. You know?
The lights come on to attract the bugs to it at night. Mostly because there have been studies that have shown that those actually trap and kill way more other insects than mosquitoes. A lot of native insects.
>> Oh no!
>> Native pollinators and things like that are actually getting attracted to that more so than mosquitoes.
>> So you are actually killing the good ones.
>> It gets better. Wait.
>> There has been studies that suggest you know, say you are sitting out on your porch and you've got your bug zapper going on the other end. The mosquitoes come in because they are attracted to the light which that is what is supposed to be happening but as they get close enough to you, they actually then pick up on your CO2 release and shift gears and they are like, "Oh, I'm not going to that light anymore, I'm going over to this person." So you are actually attracting them to you.
>> Rather than repelling them which is what you think you are doing.
>> So I would strongly discourage the light bug zapper.
>> I'm sorry, they are just not that pretty. Like they are not . . . I wouldn't want that hanging on my house. Like the light is just very glaring and just very aggressive. Yeah.
>> It's bad for the insects.
>> I didn't know that. It makes me so sad that it is killing our good insects, our native ones. It's doing the complete opposite of what we want it to do. I'm so glad you mentioned that.
>> It sounds like such a good idea but not at all.
There is evidence that mosquitoes don't like aromatic plants a lot. So like lavender and catnip and thyme and stuff like that. You could try it out. Plant some of those around your house and it will smell good.
>> And then possibly keep them away, too.
Good to know! Oh, I'm so happy that you told us about that today.
Let's talk about poison ivy. How can we protect ourselves from that? Honestly, I think I have some. Have you got some too?
Riding that poison ivy train, I tell you what.
>> I got to give a shoutout to my coworker because my first shortly after coming to Runge this happened. My coworker apparently is not very alert. You know people have different reactions to it, right?
>> That's true.
>> Supposedly he is not allergic to it or you know not affected by the oils. He doesn't think about it very much when he goes outside. I was just following him around.
>> Oh no!
>> I had to go to Urgent Care because I had . . .
>> Are you kidding?
>> It was all over my body. Yeah. So that is a running joke now. I'm like, don't follow him around.
>> No! Well now you know.
>> I am speaking from personal experience for this question. The best thing I can tell you and strongly recommend is just know what it looks like.
>> Right? Know how to identify it. It is a little tricky because it is kind of a tricky plant. It can come in a couple different forms. It can be like a small plant in the ground. It can be kind of a shrubby thing. It can be a vine.
>> A vine up a tree. Been there.
>> So it is not as easy as it seems. But you know, really try to familiarize yourself with it. To that extent there is a couple poor little plants that always get misidentified. If you are really interested in this and in wanting to better identify poison ivy, I would also encourage you to look up fragrant sumac which gets misidentified as poison ivy very often. It has three leaves. Right? We hear three leaves let it be.
>> Boxelder which is actually a tree, but when it is a small shrub it can look kind of confusing. It also has three leaves. Then, Virginia Creeper which actually has five leaves but it is a vine so it gets misidentified a lot.
Those three plants can be confused with poison ivy very easily.
I would say that if you don't know and you are thinking maybe it is poison ivy, just leave it alone. There is no reason to get into it if you are not sure. But if you are really interested in getting out more and you want to know I would kind of quiz yourself between those different plants.
>> So it is the fragrant sumac, the boxelder and the Virginia creeper that commonly get mistaken for poison ivy?
>> Yes. I'm sure there might be others too but those are the ones that we see a lot as commonly mistaken.
I also want to make a note on poison oak. Because we hear about poison oak a lot.
>> Do we even have poison oak in Missouri?
>> There is eastern poison oak which can be found in Missouri but usually very very southern Missouri . . . like down in the bootheel. It grows kind of like low nutrient rocky soils and stuff like that. It's pretty limited to the south part of the state. We don't encounter it very much.
>> Okay. Good to know.
>> Alright. So the biggest thing with poison ivy is just being able to identify it. Then like you say I would assume if you know you are going to be in the deep woods where you are probably going to encounter it more . . . and you are one of the unlucky people who are allergic to us. Then wear pants and wash your pants and your clothes.
>> Yeah, absolutely. It is the oil from the plant that is irritating, right? That oil is present in all parts of the plant. So it is not just like oh you touched the leaf or something.
>> The stem or . . . it's everywhere.
>> Anywhere in the plant. If you get that oil on you the most effective thing is to try to wash it off immediately. Running water and like a mild soap. If that is not possible, I've seen even if you can wash it in like a running stream. If you are by a small creek or something dipping your arm or leg in there, whatever can help wash the oil off. Usually they say if you are able to wash it off within about five minutes, supposedly you won't have a reaction.
That might be different for different people but in general, if you can wash it off real quickly you will have at least a less severe reaction. Then also to note, wash your clothes. That oil can stay on the clothes for a long time. If you put those same pants back on you are just reexposing yourself.
>> Right. It can stay there . . . it can be present on clothes for like months afterward, can't it?
>> I can't remember exactly but it's quite awhile.
>> It's unfair. Something I want to tell you . . . I think I got poison ivy from my dog.
>> Oh yeah.
>> Yeah. I'm actually surprised I didn't get it on my face because like all dogs you know going on adventures and being in the woods and you know chasing groundhogs and stuff. I am always all over my dog. I love on my dog. I'm a dog mom. My face is always in his face. I love you! It's like, "okay, time to go mess with the dog!" I'm just always all over my dog. That's how I think I got poison ivy.
>> A very real possibility.
>> So just because you may not have come into contact with it directly doesn't mean . . . touching someone who has it on their clothes or your dog. It's out there.
>> Right. Yep. The dog can have it on its fur. You can get it from dog fur and it's really bad. It's rough. If you have a severe allergy to it, it's a rough one.
>> I'm so jealous of people who aren't allergic to it.
>> What's interesting . . . I didn't learn this until I had my experience where I ended up in the Urgent Care. You can develop the allergy over time.
As a kid, I never remembered having poison ivy and I know I was in it. I mean I was outside all the time.
>> So I didn't think . . . but over time, especially as you become an adult you can develop a reaction to it.
>> I have talked about this in a past episode with your boss, with Kevin Lorhaff.
>> I even told him that I used to know a girl who wasn't allergic and she actually made money removing people's poison ivy from their homes.
>> Then she got allergic?
>> Maybe, I don't know. That would be ironic, wouldn't it? She had no reaction to poison ivy at all. So she really capitalized on that skill.
>> I hope for her business' sake that she doesn't develop an allergy.
>> I was like, man, that's a hustle for sure.
>> A flex.
>> A weird flex, but okay!
I would love to move on and kind of wrap things up with some fun ways to recreate in the summertime. We love summer because the sun is shining and we are blessed to live in Missouri where there are so many opportunities to get out and enjoy nature. I would like to get your opinion. We get a lot of questions on where can I take my kids floating, or fishing, or do I need a fishing permit, or sometimes . . . these kids are driving me crazy. What can I do to get them out of my house?
>> Yeah. Yeah. Well, to answer that last question I would say check your local nature center because they always have programs going on.
>> That is so true. Actually I want to give a shoutout to all of our education staff who put on these programs. Because you guys like making such fun memories for kids. You are teaching them things and getting them excited to be outside and learn new stuff. All of the programs . . . again, if anybody listening to this has not checked out their local nature center you need to because these programs are tailored for different ages of kids. Some are interactive, teaching them about wildlife and about all these different fun activities. Shoutout to all of our education staff, you included, Sarah. You guys are doing great work.
>> A caveat to that too is that even if you don't live super close to a nature center, because I know they are kind of scattered around the state. Still do check that the web page. Under the public web page for MDC there is a tab that says "Events." Still check that even if you are not super close to a nature center. We do have other education staff who are located around the state who do programs at local parks, and things like that. Even if it is not a nature center building, there is still probably some type of education program going on this summer near you.
>> Glad that you mentioned that. Okay. So good plug for MDC events.
What do you think . . . let's talk about fishing first. We just had MDC Free Fishing Days this past weekend. Fishing is such a popular activity to do in the summer. I have a question. Do kids need a fishing permit?
>> Well it depends on what you consider a kid.
>> Okay! Tell us.
>> No, I mean, I'm a big kid. I still need a fishing permit.
So anyone under the age of 16 years old, or over the age of 65 years old does not need a fishing permit.
>> With the exception of the free fishing weekend which you mentioned. Which is the weekend after the first Monday in June. We just passed that. You can get it on the calendar for next year. No one needs a fishing permit that weekend. But all other times of the year, if you are under 16 or over 65 years old, you don't need a fishing permit. If you fall between those two categories, you do need to purchase an annual fishing permit. That does include parents. If you are a parent and you are taking your 8 year old son out to go fishing, that 8 year old does not need a fishing license and does not need a fishing permit. But if you, the parents are going to be helping them at all, and like even slightly going to touch that fishing pole, you do need to purchase a fishing permit.
>> Let's be honest. You will. There is just no other way.
>> You will. At the end, you will be fishing.
>> Yes, exactly. This is you fishing. They are just sort of helping you.
>> I'm glad you mentioned that. My dad loves to take my niece and nephew fishing. Ever since I started working at MDC he just now assumes that I'm an expert in everything.
>> Oh yeah.
>> I'm sure you get that, too. They just assume you are a conservation agent now and know everything. Do I need a fishing permit? Well, technically you do because they are so young. But he's like, I'm not going to be. I'm like, yeah but you kind of are fishing. Like let's just be realistic here.
>> Well I won't ask if he's over 65.
>> He is now, but he wasn't.
>> Well there you go. If he's over 65, then he doesn't.
>> Yeah, that's true. It's so funny that you say that because the other day he told me, "were you ever going to tell me that I don't need a fishing permit now?" and I was like, oh I had forgotten about that. I guess you are over 65 now. Sorry, dad.
So yes, that is a common thing people always get confused on. I also want to take a moment to shout out that yes, you can buy permits physically. But it's so easy whenever you have a phone.
>> I was going to answer the other part of your question. At the beginning you said where do I take my kids fishing and things like that. Again, as my naturalist connecting you to the right resources, I would definitely plug the MO fishing app. MDC has an app called MO Fishing. You can get it in the app store. Not only can you purchase your fishing permit through that app. It also has a whole database of places to fish, waterways, you know, lakes and rivers and things. Places you can fish through different conservation areas and I think it even has some city lakes that MDC stocks and stuff like that in that app. You can type in your location and find those fishing locations that are close to you. You got everything you need right there.
I think it also includes fish ID.
>> I was going to say that. Gosh, you and I are like psychic connections today. I was just going to say that! Yeah!
>> Different species that you can find there, I believe.
>> Yeah, a really cool app. Just a great resource to keep in your pocket this summer.
>> And we also on the flip side have the MO Outdoors app as well which helps find other locations like hiking locations, and different ways that you can get outside and recreate in nature just in general. The cool thing about that is that it has specific info on each conservation area as well as far as like hey, this is what you can see here. These are the guidelines and this is where it is located.
>> Oh yeah, that is another one of our top questions. People come into the nature center and they want a map of all the conservation areas in the state. Which sounds like a great idea but that would be a really big map. So whenever possible we point them to that MO Outdoors app because you can filter, look my county, look by activity.
>> So definitely another great one.
>> There are more than a thousand conservation areas in Missouri. So yeah, that would be a lot.
Which is awesome! I think our statistic is that no matter where you live in the state, you are about 20 minutes from a conservation area because there are so many. Something like that.
>> Yeah. From public land I think.
>> Yeah. Yeah. Either way. You are close to somewhere where you could get out and enjoy the natural resources.
So, what's your favorite thing to do in the summer, Sarah?
>> I got to say . . . be on a river.
>> Yeah? That's a popular one because you gotta cool off.
>> Yeah. I mean . . .
>> You like to float?
>> How could you want anything else? Yeah, oh, absolutely. I grew up floating down in southern Missouri and I just feel so fortunate that my parents took me to do that. You know? That's a place where I feel very comfortable and I just love it.
>> I like being on the water, too. Do you have a favorite river you like to float?
>> You know, I can't tell you because then you would take it. No . . . that's not true. I will share. I would say a personal favorite for me is Eleven Point.
>> Oh, okay.
>> I was thinking about telling people on the podcast if they were interested in floating and things like that. You have to kind of weigh your objectives or kind of what you want out of the float. The Eleven Point is great, but if you know anything about the Eleven Point, it is very very far down there.
>> Oh really?
>> It is down in southern Missouri.
>> It's quite a travel.
>> It is. Yeah. I mean, for me, here in central Missouri it's a ways. If I'm only looking to go for a day or something like that I probably won't go that far.
>> Right. But the Ozarks in Missouri are so beautiful down there. Yeah. Just the scenery, the different habitats that it hosts like the glades.
>> Absolutely. The bluffs, the springs on a lot of those rivers down there. So cool.
>> I have only floated a few times.
>> I know! I'm actually not an experienced floater.
>> We gotta get you out there.
>> That is where I have to credit MDC. We have so many . . . the events fill up so quickly because they are so fun and popular. Not only MDC does this but so does Missouri State Parks, I believe the DNR staff do floating programs and teach people. They supply everything. You can learn how to float different kayaks, and different styles and canoes. I even tried out a paddle board at one of our events. It was so fun.
>> It was a blast. We host those programs all throughout the summer, correct?
>> Yeah, I actually have one coming up. By the time we listen to this it will probably be over. But I do have a women's paddling coming up at the end of June. We are going to meet on Friday and kind of go over the basics of kayaking and make sure everyone is comfortable. Then on Saturday we are going to do a river float.
>> Oh, wow! That will be an amazing experience.
>> I'm really excited.
>> Yeah! That will be great. I love the fact that we do a lot of women focused programs as well. Because women have been a neglected demographic in the outdoor space. We want them to feel comfortable and know that nature is for everybody. I love that we do those women focused programs to get them connected with nature. I think that's really awesome.
Sarah, thank you so much for being on this episode with me. You've taught me a lot and I know that you have taught our listeners a lot.
>> Sounds good.
>> I would love to have you on again and talk some more about some common questions we get from the public later on in the year.
>> Oh yeah, you know people never run out of questions.
>> That is absolutely true! The thing is we are here to help!
I appreciate your time today.
>> Thank you.
>> Thanks again to Sarah Easton for joining me on this episode. I will definitely have her back to answer your questions. So be sure to send us a message. Log on to missouriconservation.org/natureboost to email us questions, and send us topic suggestions and if you send me your shirt size I will even mail you a nature boost t-shirt. I'm Jill Pritchard with the Missouri Department of Conservation encouraging you to get your daily dose of the outdoors.