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

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

Q: What type of sunfish is this?

This is a longear sunfish (Lepomis megalotis), by far the most abundant and generally distributed sunfish over the southern half of Missouri.

These fish are found in Ozark streams of all sizes, except extreme headwaters. They prefer overflow pools and inlets near stream channels, as well as ponds and reservoirs. They like clear, permanent-flowing waterways with sandy or rocky bottoms and aquatic vegetation.

Although not considered a game fish, this species provides good sport when taken on light tackle. Worms, grasshoppers, and small minnows are good natural bait, but artificial small spinners, popping bugs, and flies also are effective. For more information, visit

Q: Now that the blooms on my native flowers are beginning to fade, is there anything I can do to support bees, aside from planting more native flowers next spring?

Whether in the city or a rural area, bumblebee species in greatest decline are being found where floral resources are diverse, according to observations recorded in the Missouri Bumble Bee Atlas. We also know from the Atlas that bumblebees prefer native wildflowers for nectar and pollen. For that reason, conservationists ask people to avoid nonnative species for native species. Planting flowers — whether a small window box or a 40-acre field — is the best thing you can do.

A good resource for procuring native plants is or a native plant sale near you.

To assist pollinators, the standard recommendation is 20 species of flowering plants with at least three blooming at any one time during the growing season. If not enough blooming plants are on the landscape when the queen bees emerge in May and June, the chances of them making a successful nest are slim. The same thing can happen in late August and September when new queens are bulking up for the winter.

Flowers like blue indigo, bee balm, purple coneflowers, milkweed, field thistle, blazing stars, oxeye sunflower, Maximillian sunflower, pitcher sage, and goldenrod are known to attract and sustain bumblebees. In many landscapes, a diversity of floral resources allows bumblebees to tailor their foraging to match their current needs. (Some studies have even shown bumblebees will selfmedicate with certain plants if a colony is facing a disease issue.)

Avoiding insecticides is another easy step to take. Exposure to small doses of pesticides over the course of their life may not be lethal, but it does affect bees’ ability to navigate and provide food for the colony.

Finally, creating a nesting substrate can help. In the wild, bumblebees often use old mouse burrows. This can be replicated with an overturned flowerpot. A few cotton balls or a wad of fabric sometimes seems to help them get nests established.

Q. What caterpillar is this?

This is a stinging rose caterpillar (Parasa indetermina). Many caterpillar hunters prize this species for their beautiful yellow, orange, or red colors. Common foodplants include apple, dogwood, hickory, maples, oaks, poplars, and rose bushes.

As a defense mechanism, these caterpillars possess hollow quilllike hairs, which when touched, can release a venom, which can lead to mild itching or more severe pain.


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 Manager - Laura Scheuler