By MDC | April 1, 2022
From Missouri Conservationist: April 2022

Got a question for Ask MDC? Send it to or call 573-522-4115, ext. 3848.

Q: We found these eggs in a pool that’s formed from a natural spring. Can you help identify them?

These are spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) eggs. During the first warm rains in late February to mid-March, they begin to congregate in shallow, fishless, woodland ponds to court and lay eggs. Female spotted salamanders generally lay two to four egg masses, producing a total of 200 to 400 eggs. The gilled larvae hatch in four to six weeks. Most will leave the pond over the summer, but some may overwinter there. And many will return to the same pond to breed year after year.

Q: I regularly read, and have followed, that tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) should be avoided. It’s popular at many nurseries. Why should we not plant it?

Conservationists recommend avoiding tropical milkweed because, like many annuals, it doesn’t die back until a killing frost. In recent years in Missouri, that hasn’t happened until November.

Native milkweeds, on the other hand, deteriorate when the monarchs are migrating in late September and October. The concern is that tropical milkweed, still actively growing, will bring migrating monarchs out of diapause — a period of suspended development — and cause them to breed. This, in turn, could stop their migration and the offspring of these monarchs will not survive the fall weather to migrate successfully to Mexico.

Conservationists do not see this same concern in Missouri’s native milkweed species. With 18 species of milkweed native to Missouri, they have adapted to most habitats in the state — from wetlands to glades — so finding one to suit your local conditions is feasible. While some milkweeds look nondescript, all provide valuable nectar to many species and serve as hosts to monarch larvae. And many are finally being recognized for their ornamental qualities in landscaping. Learn more about cultivating native milkweeds online at

Q: What is the rationale for halting spring turkey hunting at 1 p.m. daily?

The tradition of half-day spring turkey hunting in Missouri started in 1960, the year of the state’s first modern turkey season. Conservationists of that era were engaged in restoration efforts because turkey populations were relatively low, and biologists did not have a good understanding of how male harvest affected population dynamics. Therefore, many states, including Missouri, implemented conservative hunting regulations when establishing spring turkey seasons to ensure harvest would not hamper restoration efforts.

At the time, the main justification for half-day hunting included limiting the harvest of gobblers and reducing the disturbance of nesting hens. Additionally, it was believed hens were more likely to take recesses from nesting during the warm part of the day, making hens susceptible to accidental harvest during the afternoon, explained MDC Scientist Reina Tyl.

For more information on wild turkey hunting, visit


This Issue's Staff

Magazine Manager - Stephanie Thurber
Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Associate Editor - Larry Archer
Photography Editor - Cliff White
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek
Staff Writer – Dianne Van Dien
Designer - Shawn Carey
Designer - Marci Porter
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Circulation - Laura Scheuler