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From Missouri Conservationist: Jul 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.


Q. I read in the news that periodical cicadas are emerging in Missouri. Are those different than the cicadas we hear every year?

A. Periodical cicadas are so named because the broods emerge in 13-year or 17-year cycles. Periodical cicadas make a sudden, massive appearance, usually in areas with trees, with loud raspy choruses and a multitude of shed skins left behind on tree trunks. By emerging in huge numbers, cicadas overwhelm their predators’ numbers and ability to feed on them, so any individual cicada has a good chance of surviving and reproducing. Periodical cicadas appear in late May and June, while annual cicadas appear each year in July and August. Striking red eyes and blackish bodies distinguish periodical cicadas, while annual cicadas have greenish or brownish bodies, dark eyes, and are about 2 inches long. Periodical cicadas are slightly smaller. For more information, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/12097.

Q. Are there a lot of different types of snakes in Missouri? How do I tell if a snake is venomous or not?

A. With its wide variety of habitats, such as prairies, Ozark hills, swamps, and marshes, Missouri is home to 46 different species and subspecies of snakes. Snakes are an important part of the natural wildlife food chain. They reduce populations of destructive rodents and, in turn, are prey to hawks, great blue herons, and game fish. Most of our snakes are harmless. Although many bite in self-defense, their bites usually produce nothing more than harmless scratches. There are only five species of venomous snakes in all of Missouri. In daylight, these venomous snakes have eyes with vertical pupils — like a cat — while all harmless snakes have round pupils. Though few people in Missouri have suffered venomous snakebites, and most of those incidents occurred when people were trying to kill or handle the snake, you should seek medical attention immediately in the event of a venomous snakebite. To learn more about snakes, visit our field guide for photos and descriptions of Missouri snakes at mdc.mo.gov/node/73.

Q. What are these speckles in the fish I caught at a lake?

A. The black spots you see are a worm called a black grub. These fish parasites form a small, dark-colored cyst around themselves, which makes them appear dark and easy to spot. These grubs are found most often in the fins of fish, but can also be found in the flesh. Almost all fish have a few parasites. A fillet that is completely covered with black grubs can look unappetizing; however, once the fish is thoroughly cooked, the parasites disappear and cannot be tasted. For more information on this topic, visit tinyurl.com/ncogkjc.

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

Agent Notes

Get Away From Summer Heat

July in Missouri means hot, sultry days, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay cooped up inside. There are ways to beat the heat and still enjoy the outdoors.

Missouri is home to thousands of miles of rivers and streams and numerous public lakes. One way to enjoy a hot day is kayak fishing on a river or stream. If you prefer a bigger boat, you can still beat the heat on a Missouri lake. Try nighttime crappie fishing under lights or working the banks for bass using a topwater plug. These can be effective ways to catch fish in the cooler night air.

A night hike on a familiar trail is another way to enjoy nature from a different perspective. This is a great way to see and hear nocturnal wildlife not normally associated with daytime heat. You will notice things at night previously missed during the day. Calling to owls and listening to them call back in the tree canopy overhead is an enjoyable activity for children.

Try some new activities to beat the heat while spending time in the outdoors.

Zeb Jordan is the conservation agent for St. Clair County. If you would like to contact the agent for your county, phone your regional conservation office.

What Is It?

Common Buckeye Butterfly

Junonia coenia

Although many butterflies are named for their food plants, this one is named for the bold eyespots on its wings, and not for any relationship to the trees called “buckeyes.” This common summer resident can be found statewide in all kinds of open habitats. The adults visit a variety of flowers and are also attracted to decaying fruit and moist places. The abundance of this species varies from year to year. Some years it is very common, and in other years it is almost absent. Adults fly from spring through fall, with several broods during this time. Eggs are laid singly on buds and leaves of host plants. —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