Miscellany

What Is It?

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

Ask the Ombudsman

Q. I was surprised to see white pelicans on Stockton Lake recently. Are pelicans rare in Missouri?

American white pelicans breed and nest in states to the north and west of Missouri and in Canada. They winter in southern California, Mexico, and along the Gulf Coast. The ones that winter on the Gulf Coast pass through Missouri in migration each spring (early March through May) and fall (late September through late November) on their way to and from nesting areas. During migration, flocks of 5,000 or more pelicans may amass on Missouri’s lakes, marshes, and, occasionally, on rivers. Ten years ago it was a rare sight to see pelicans in Missouri in the summer or winter, but nonbreeding birds, mainly immature individuals, can now be found on our lakes and rivers during those seasons. A flock of these large, white birds is striking, whether floating on a lake or in flight. Their wingspan is second only to the California condor among North American bird species. They are occasionally confused with snow geese or whooping cranes, which also may fly high overhead, almost out of sight.

Q. What are the black and red bugs that are clustering on the side of my house and on some tree trunks?

Your description fits the box elder bug, a species that is often observed at this time of the year. Box elder bugs spend the summer sucking on plant sap from box elders, silver maples, and other related trees. With the first cold snaps of fall, they begin congregating in warmer areas like the sunny sides of trees, houses, and other structures. The adult insects and nymphs are usually present. They are looking for crevices and cracks where they can find shelter and become inactive during the coming cold weather. They have a knack for finding their way inside homes, too, where they can aggravate the occupants. They do not harm humans or pets but may leave stains on walls if swatted. They can be vacuumed when found inside the house. Sealing foundation cracks and door thresholds and keeping window screens in good repair can reduce the number that get inside. See the document at this Web address for more details on box elder bugs: extension.missouri.edu/p/g7360.

Q. Can you explain the meaning of the “possession limit” for game species? Does it mean the limit that one can kill in one day’s time or does it include game stored in the freezer?

The daily limit is the amount of game that you may take in a day. The possession limit is the amount of game that you may have in your possession, including game stored in a refrigerator or freezer or in any other way. Once you reach the possession limit, you will need to eat some of the stored game or give it to someone else before you hunt for those species again. Any game that you give away is still included in your daily harvest limit for the day that it was taken but it is no longer included in your possession limit. Game received as a gift is included in the possession limit of the recipient. There are labeling requirements for any game that is given away to make clear the species, who killed the game, and when the harvest occurred. Telecheck confirmation numbers are required in the labeling of deer and turkey that is stored or given away.

Ombudsman Tim Smith will respond to your questions, suggestions, or complaints concerning the Conservation Department. Address: PO Box 180, Jefferson City, 65102-0180 Phone: 573-522-4115, ext. 3848 Email: Ombudsman@mdc.mo.gov

Agent Notes

Mentoring Young Hunters

Last year my son decided he was ready to hunt deer, so we prepared for the Early Youth Portion of the Firearms Deer Season. My son is 9 years old and not old enough to take a hunter education course. The minimum age to attend a course is 11. Youth who are at least 6, but not older than 15, may purchase deer and turkey hunting permits without being hunter-education certified, but they must hunt in the immediate presence of a properly licensed adult hunter who is 18 or older and has in his/her possession a valid hunter education certificate card or was born before Jan. 1, 1967. When introducing others to hunting, mentors have a great deal of responsibility and should ensure they are up to date on regulations. The Wildlife Code of Missouri contains most regulations but special seasons (like deer and turkey) have separate booklets. In preparation of the hunt, we purchased permits, scouted for deer, sighted in his rifle, studied deer anatomy, and discussed regulations. The Department has resources for beginning hunters including skills classes, the 2013 Missouri Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting booklet and Web pages. To learn more about deer hunting in Missouri, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/2458. As my son and I sat in our blind on his first outing as a full-fledged deer hunter, I nervously wondered if I had properly prepared him. My 9 year old put my mind at ease when he whispered, “Dad, do we have permission to hunt here and are you sure you put my deer tag in my backpack?”

Mark Reed is the conservation agent in Stoddard County. If you would like to contact the agent for your county, phone your regional conservation office.

What Is It?

Black-and-Yellow Garden Spider

Argiope aurantia

This common spider is found in grassy areas near houses and in tall grasslands. Individual spiders tend to stay in one area all season. The circular webs can reach about 2 feet in diameter, and the spider is often resting head-down in the center on a zigzag band of silk. Once an insect is caught in the web, the spider often shakes the web to ensnare it. Spiderlings hatch in spring and will balloon on strands of silk in the breeze. The much smaller male plucks strands on a female’s web to court her. All summer, the females eat insects and create up to four egg cases that can contain more than 1,000 eggs each. As temperatures cool in autumn, the female slows and dies in the first frosts. — photo by Noppadol Paothong