Asian lady beetle © Scott Bauer
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Busting a myth about Asian lady beetles
Is it truth or myth that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources introduced Asian lady beetles to the Wisconsin environment? I heard that at first they denied it but later took credit for it.
Andrea Diss-Torrance, DNR's invasive forest insect program coordinator, replied: Myth. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources had nothing to do with the arrival of Asian lady beetles in Wisconsin. These lady beetles were introduced in Louisiana by local agriculture agencies several times unsuccessfully but finally got established there, possibly from an accidental introduction. Since then they have expanded in all directions, including into Wisconsin. This is not surprising for three reasons: first, the species has a wide range in Asia that includes tropical and temperate climates, and they can survive in most of the United States, not just Louisiana; second, they are generalist predators feeding on a wide variety of insects with no shortage of prey; and third, they are well adapted to agricultural and human disturbed environments unlike our native species of lady beetles which prefer woodlands and other natural settings.
The source of confusion may be that the Department of Natural Resources has been involved with introductions of specialist natural enemies to control invasive, destructive pests such as gypsy moth, emerald ash borer and purple loosestrife. We are very conservative in our selection of what we introduce and only release selective natural enemies that have been proven to attack the target invasive pest and not other species. This approach results in improved control of the invasive pest with few, if any, additional problems for our native species and for people. Success stories include the introduced fungal disease of gypsy moth, Entomophaga maimaiga which has reduced the frequency and length of gypsy moth outbreaks. Also, Galerucella calmariensis and G. pusilla which control purple loosestrife, prevent it from choking out our native wetland plants and starving the wildlife that depend on them.
Let's talk hunting
Editor's Note: We received another letter in response to our October 2011 story, Let's talk hunting, in which we asked readers to engage in a discussion of how to fund conservation programs in the face of declining hunter numbers.
The wonderful photo of Keith Warnke and his daughters on page 10 is great. I have a few photos with me and grandsons, only not lately. I'm 74 – my 62nd deer season. We didn't see a deer in six days. Please, please stop the bleeding. We can't have predator numbers and doe tags like we give them out and expect to have anything left. Everyone gets their kick at the cat except the daughters and sons that will carry on the sport. Highway kills are down 50 percent. Show me one place in Wisconsin where there is a browse line like we had in the 50s. It's too late for me, but not for the young hunters. Please stop the bleeding. Thank you.
Keith Warnke had this response: Thank you for your commitment to Wisconsin's hunting heritage. There is really one path to maintaining it in the future and you have taken it. I share your frustration in deer hunting last season. My daughters and I hunted during five days of the nine-day gun season and we saw one deer between the three of us. You make a good observation that the landscape has changed dramatically in the past 30 years. There are more predators now than probably any time in recent history, hunters are now planting food plots more than ever, technology has advanced the weapons we use, and land use for hunting has changed greatly. Parcels are smaller, deer drives are waning, and hunting from elevated stands has become much more popular. These and many other changes have taken place and they can affect deer populations and deer movement during the nine-day gun season. I am confident that the deer population in my area will rise again and our deer sighting rate will change. We will continue to make filling our freezer with local, free range venison a priority every year.
On the Sunday of November 21, 2010, I woke up before the alarm went off at 3:30 a.m., anxiously awaiting the time to step into the woods. There was just enough wood left in the wood-burning stove, heating that old rundown house, built on 180 acres of mixed hardwoods. It was the second day of gun deer season, a frosty morning in Genoa, Wis. Darkness shaded the sky with the light of the moon revealing my path into the deer stand. There I sat for five hours; 15 feet up, in anticipation of a deer approaching, but not a single deer was in sight.
That afternoon my hunting crew of eight was in accord with one another, a new strategy was to be established in order to push these whitetails from their nesting areas. Hiking up the hilly terrain once again, I reached the black walnut tree where a stand was propped. As rain began falling on the forest floor, fog crept over the bluffs, diminishing my surroundings. A half hour passed and an abrupt rustling noise came from the top of the ridge, increasing its proximity to my stand with every second. Out of the brush appeared a doe that began slowing her pace. My 44-Magnum rifle was already sighted on her before she could take another step. At 20 yards, I took one breath, and shot! She bolted off, across the logging road, down the hillside. It wasn't until soon after I found her lying there.
I saw the commotion from about 40 yards. Lots of wing flapping and movement. I took a break from trout fishing and quickly approached the action. My camera was out and I started taking photos from 30 feet out. When I got closer I saw a huge dark-colored spider in a battle with a big butterfly.
The spider was having its way with the butterfly. The spider was so large I was afraid to get close to it at first. It looked very busy trying to consume this butterfly so I took my chances and got a couple close-ups of the death match. The butterfly was really struggling and I felt sorry for it and gave the spider a nudge with the end of my rod and it quickly retreated down the stalk of vegetation it was on.
The butterfly sat there for a while putting itself back together. The spider made a couple more runs up the stalk to try to resume the battle but I blocked it each time. The butterfly flew away. The HUGE spider then went on with its search for food. They hunt on the surface of still or slowmoving fresh water. They row themselves across the surface supported by the surface tension, and can also sail across on the wind.
Initially I believed the spider to be a wolf spider. I went on the Internet to search spiders and narrowed the type of spider to either a wolf spider or a fishing spider. The eyes were what made me think it was NOT a wolf spider. I sent away the photo to an insect specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Five months after my query I got an email back and the professor identified the spider as a female fishing spider. He also said the butterfly was a question mark butterfly.
New generation of duck hunters
2011 was a start for the fourth generation of Murphy to hunt the same marsh and nearly the same spot within that marsh. With a non-hunting girlfriend along, all enjoyed a day out in the field as a 10 year old began his journey into the world of hunting. William Francis-John, John-Michael and Linda Sue all in smiles that day in the middle of Columbia County.