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From Missouri Conservationist: Jun 2015

What Is It?

Our photographers have been busy exploring the intricacies of outdoor Missouri. See if you can guess this month’s natural wonder.

What is it 01 06-2015


Q. I came across this bug and took this picture while hiking at Castor River Conservation Area. What is it? A bee? A moth? A fly?

A. It’s a type of fly called a greater bee fly. It’s named this because it mimics a bumblebee with its yellowish and brown furry body and buzzing sound it makes when flying. Bee flies have only two wings instead of four (like bees), large eyes, skinny long legs, and very short antennae. They are fast and skillful fliers and use their long, stiff tongues (proboscis) to probe into flowers for nectar. They aid pollination because pollen sticks to their furry coats, and they transport it to other flowers.

Q. I saw this photo on Facebook, the person claims it is a black mountain lion and was taken near Ava, Missouri.

A. This is a hoax. This photo has been making the rounds on the Internet for some time, and various people claimed to have taken it in their state. It is a photo of a black leopard and was probably taken in Africa or Asia, where leopards are found. The black color is called melanism and is caused by a recessive gene that affects pigment. While this coloration occurs in leopards, there is no recorded evidence of a black cougar or mountain lion in North America. Missouri does have confirmed cases of mountain lions, but no evidence of a breeding population. For more info, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/3505.

Q. I found this “thing” on a cedar tree next to my yard. I have never before seen anything like it! What is it and how did it get there? Is it dangerous? Can it or will it transfer to other plants or trees nearby?

A. It is a gall (a swollen growth similar to a wart) of a fungal disease called cedar-apple rust. The fungus is so named because it requires two hosts to complete its life cycle: eastern red cedar trees and apple trees. The fungus overwinters inside the galls on cedar trees, then spring rains cause worm-like tentacles (called telia) to extrude from the galls. As the telia absorb moisture, they become jelly-like and swollen and eventually produce spores that are discharged into the air. The spores that land on apple trees or crab apple trees grow to produce an orange blemish or “rust” on apple leaves and fruit.

The life cycle continues one or two months later when the rust produces another fungal structure (called aecia) on the underside of the leaf or on the fruit. Different spores are produced and released into the air in late summer. The spores that land on young leaves of cedar trees then germinate and form more galls. The galls generally take two years to mature.

The disease does not generally kill red cedar trees, but can significantly blemish apple leaves and fruit, eventually weakening highly susceptible trees. You can manage cedar-apple rust on susceptible apple trees by applying fungicides in the spring or by planting resistant varieties of apple trees.

  • Address: PO Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180
  • Phone: 573-522-4115, ext. 3848
  • Email: AskMDC@mdc.mo.gov

cartoon 06-2015

Agent Notes

Summertime Froggin’

During frogging season, which runs from sunset June 30 through Oct. 31, I routinely receive this question: What permit is needed to pursue bullfrogs and green frogs? The answer depends on the method used to capture your prey.

With a fishing permit, frogs may be taken by hand, hand net, atlatl, gig, bow, trotline, throw line, limbline, bank line, jug line, snagging, snaring, grabbing, or pole and line. With a small game hunting permit, frogs may be taken by hand or hand net, with a .22-caliber or smaller rimfire rifle or pistol, pellet gun, bow, crossbow, or atlatl. Any person 15 or younger may take frogs without a permit — subject to hunter education requirements if using hunting methods.

The daily limit for bullfrogs and green frogs is eight, with a possession limit of 16 total at any one time. An artificial light may be used.

You can find frogs around ponds, lakes, rivers, and streams — just listen for the sounds of croaking. Be sure to obtain permission if you will be frogging on private property.

This summer when you are looking for a fun family activity, give frogging a try. It’s a great way to introduce kids to the outdoors. They will enjoy trying to chase and catch jumping frogs.

Jason Eikermann is the conservation agent for Gasconade County. If you would like to contact the agent for your county, phone your regional conservation office.

What Is It?

Giant Ichnuemon

What is it 02 06-2015

Megarhyssa atrata The giant ichneumon (ick-NEW-mon) is a rare find in Missouri. Including its long, thin “tail,” the ichneumon is more than 6 inches long. Although it looks dangerous, the ichneumon is harmful only to the larvae of other wasps, which ichneumon larvae eat. The giant ichneumon can be found in large tracts of old, deciduous forests throughout the eastern United States. Missouri, with few old forests, is at the western limit of its range. Ichneumon larvae feed upon larvae of the pigeon horntail, another kind of wasp that lays its eggs in dead wood. Giant ichneumons appear May through July. The female locates pigeon horntail larvae in dead wood, then weaves her long egg tube into the nest, depositing an egg. When the egg hatches, the larva feeds on the pigeon horntail larvae. —photograph by Noppadol Paothong

This Issue's Staff

Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Art Director - Cliff White
Staff Writer/Editor - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Circulation - Laura Scheuler