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From Missouri Conservationist: Sep 2009

Wild images

Noppadol Paothong’s article in the July issue [Backyard Wildlife] is spot on regarding wildlife in one’s backyard. Our house backs to woods, which then adjoin one corner of a large preservation area. As a result, we have plentiful wildlife, and I rarely miss an opportunity to try photographing them.

Red foxes, grey foxes, turkeys, deer (of course), various birds including raptors, a residential pair of great horned owls, and the occasional barred owl, bats, opossums, raccoons, turtles, snakes, skinks, nearly all have come under the scrutiny of my own lens, though certainly not of the quality of Mr. Paothong’s photos. Two coyotes have been seen in our yard, as well.

I even saw once, a cicada killer wasp, cicada in her grasp, climbing up a maple tree with her prey. I was unable to get a photo, but watched as long as possible, until the wasp dropped the cicada and flew off. Later, the cicada was gone, so I assume the wasp returned and continued her journey up the tree to her nest, where the cicada would be food for her young.

I’m not a Missouri native, having moved to the St. Louis area from Florida nearly 11 years ago, but I love the area and the seasons. I grew up in a very rural atmosphere, and the fact that we have plentiful wildlife in our backyard is a bit of a return to that feeling of closeness to nature that seems missed by so many who dwell in suburbia, or in urban areas where wildlife is perhaps less abundant and diverse.

Missouri Conservationist has been a wonderful guide to the many species of flora and fauna in the area, and I’ve learned so very much from this magazine regarding the excellent work of the Conservation Department and the constant battle to see that our natural world is as well-preserved, well-maintained and as healthy as possible.

Robert Savage, Ellisville

I am so impressed with the photos and accompanying article by Noppadol Paothong in the July issue. I often wonder how photographers get those great close-ups of insects and wildlife, and he offered a snapshot into the nature photographer’s world. I will never photograph the way he does, but my interest in wildlife, especially the insect world, draws me to this type of photography. I especially appreciated the photo of the preying mantis eating the bee. She seemed to be peering at the photographer, wondering what in the world he was looking at.

Cathy Edmond, St. Louis

Tumble bug’s treasure

When reading the answer to the tumble bug question in the section “Ask the Ombudsman” in the June issue, I was reminded of my first (and only) encounter with one.

My two young sons and I were taking a walk down a dirt road when one of them spotted this beetle that seemed to be pushing something. I bent over and got a closer look. I didn’t know exactly what it was the bug was pushing, all I knew is that it seemed to be such a big task at the slow rate the beetle was moving it. I decided to help him out by picking up this ball of something with the beetle still clung to it, and I crossed the road with it in the same direction the beetle was headed. I placed it down gently, with my boys watching intently, and felt as though I had done my good deed for the day!

We got back to the house where my husband listened to the boys tell the story of finding the beetle and of mom helping it by picking it up and carrying it over to the other side of the road. My husband, with a grin on his face, asked me if I knew what the beetle’s ball was. I told him I had no idea, and then he told me it was cow poop! Well, you can imagine the laughing that took place between my husband and my two sons! (And I immediately washed my hands!)

Kelly Potter, via Internet

Submissions reflect readers’ opinions and may be edited for length and clarity.

This Issue's Staff

Editor In Chief - Ara Clark
Managing Editor - Nichole LeClair Terrill
Art Director - Cliff White
Writer/Editor - Tom Cwynar
Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Artist - Dave Besenger
Artist - Mark Raithel
Circulation - Laura Scheuler