14 • July 29 - 30, 2020 STATE MDC online program helps kids learn about nature’s ‘secret agents’ By Francis Skalicky, MDC CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – The animals around us use a variety of fascinating adaptations to find food and to avoid being food for other predators. Kids who think they have the stealth to go undercover as covert nature detectives can learn more about the tricks of the wildlife trade in the virtual Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) four-part program “Nature’s Secret Agents.” The dates for these programs, which is being put on by the staff at MDC’s Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center, will be Aug. 4-7. Each day, the program will be 10-11 a.m. This event is designed for ages 7-11 and online attendees must be able to participate in all four sessions of the program. Wildlife detectives can particAn outdoors landscape holds many interesting clues about how animals survive and thrive in their surroundings. (MDC Photo) ipate with a computer, tablet or smartphone. Participants will be asked to pick up a box full of secret activities at the Cape Girardeau Nature Center so they can share their sleuthing skills with MDC instructors and other participants. Participants can get information on picking up their boxes by calling 573- 290-5218 or e-mailing MDC Naturalist Alex Holmes at Alex Holmes at Alex.Holmes@ mdc.mo.gov (link sends e-mail). People need to register for the program at: https://mdc-event-web. s3licensing.com/Event/EventDetails/173719 Though this program is free, registration is required to participate using the link above. Registrants must provide an e-mail, so a program link can be sent to them. This program will include a chatbased question-and-answer period where participants with the presenters. can bransonglobe.com Differential grasshopper. (MDC Photo) Grasshopper calls sounds of summer By Peg Craft, MDC Grasshopper calls are the elevator interact music of summer. As their rasping drones on, we soon tune it out. Grasshoppers create songs that are repeated without a musical pitch. The songs aren’t whistles or trills. Instead, they sound like two pieces of sandpaper scratching together. It’s a sort of insect rhythm section. A grasshopper makes its coarse tune by rubbing a series of small spines on its hind leg across a scraper on its wing, like sliding a thumbnail along the teeth of a comb. Each species has its own call to attract mates, just as birds do. Usually, only males take to music, attracting females with their calls. They mate, and the female lays eggs. Tiny nymphs hatch from the eggs the following spring. By late summer, the nymphs have grown through about five molts to become adults with a song. Try tuning in to the grasshoppers when you go outside. Listen for their different calls, especially during the day, along roadsides and in woods and fields. Differential grasshoppers are a favorite bait for anglers, and are an important component in the food chain for many animals, including foxes, raccoons, squirrels, amphibians, snakes, birds, turtles, and bats. At times, differential grasshoppers occur in large enough populations to cause severe damage to agricultural crops.

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