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Blackspot Fish Parasite
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[Last February] my husband found a beautiful small butterfly in our garage. We put it into a ventilated jar to which my husband added a few blades of grass and a small twig. How can it survive in the winter? Where did it come from, and what will happen to it? We will keep it in the house. Would you let us know what we might do to help it survive until summer?
Mrs. Edward Kuckkan
We received several letters last winter from folks who found butterflies hatching in a garage or basement. Our advice to this reader at the time was that she might have luck sustaining adult butterflies for a short period with sugar water or a mineral mix in which some wet stones are placed near the butterfly. One might also experiment with tiny pieces of fruit or a little honey water to see if the butterfly is attracted to any of these mixtures. don't be disappointed, however, if the butterfly only lives a short while. In the wild, adult butterflies live from one week to six months, depending on the species.
I went ice fishing over the weekend on a small lake in northern Wisconsin. I drilled a couple of holes and started getting bites right away. The fish bit very lightly, but were pretty constant. After about 45 minutes, I finally hooked one and to my surprise, I pulled a bullhead through the ice. I caught a second one a little while later as I was raising my jig. I never caught any other kinds of fish. Is this unusual to catch bullheads through the ice? Everything I have read on bullheads says they are very lethargic in the winter. It's a small lake. Do bullheads co-habitate with other fish well?
According to fisheries biologist Karl Scheidegger, you're right. Bullheads and catfish are lethargic in winter and it is unusual to catch them through the ice, but they still need to eat. Scheidegger says: "Bullheads are clearly warmwater fish. As water temperatures decrease, their metabolism slows and their need for food also decreases. Anglers shouldn't expect to catch many through the ice, but it certainly can happen. The catch rate is so low, however, that bullhead fishing would have to be considered non-existent in the winter months. I'd say Mr. Kauzlaric was just in the right place at the right time."
Regarding Michael Wessinger's letter in the August 2005 issue (Disrespect for Pine Island, Readers Write), why not enlist the aid of scouts and high school students to clean up the mess on Levee Road, and shop classes to make "no dumping" signs? Aldo Leopold would say "Take it away boys!" More power to you!
Carol H. Dahl
My son has two spring-fed ponds with bluegills and bass. When we fillet the fish, some have dark spots in the meat. I remember reading about it in one of your magazines and cannot find the article to determine if the fish are okay to eat. If so, what are the dark spots and does it only happen in spring-fed ponds? Also can we stock trout with the bass and bluegills?
Fish Health Specialist Sue Marcquenski responded to a similar letter in October 2004 regarding black spots in perch. Here is her updated response: The black spots you see in the muscle of the bass and bluegill are larval stages of a parasite, cleverly called "blackspot." The adult parasite lives in a fish-eating bird such as a kingfisher or gull. Parasite eggs are shed in the bird's feces and when they contact water, the eggs hatch and the first larval stage emerges and infects snails. These larvae mature and in time are shed from the snail into the water. The larvae have tails and swim until they find a fish host, and then burrow into the skin or muscle of the fish. Here, they develop into a third larval stage and black cyst walls are produced, covering the larvae.
The black spots we see in the meat are actually the black parasite cysts. When a bird eats the infected fish, the larvae mature into adult parasites and the cycle begins again. Thoroughly cooking the fish will kill the parasites, and in any case, they cannot infect people; they can only develop in birds.
Almost all fish are susceptible to the blackspot parasite, so if you stock your pond with trout, it is very likely that they will become infected too. In the past 10 years or so, the number of fish-eating birds has greatly increased in the Upper Midwest, and snail populations have survived well over our mild winters. The blackspot parasite has taken advantage of this situation and will maintain its life cycle as long as the birds, snails and fish remain abundant in a lake or pond.
I took the enclosed wolf photograph in the Black River State Forest in February 2006. Since this wolf hung around for a while, I decided to be bold and get out of my truck to be photographed with it. When I take a crew out to various job sites in the forest, I always have my camera along to be ready for any photo taking opportunities.
G. R. Twesme
Several wolves have been sighted here feeding on roadkills. They lose their fear of vehicles and can become habituated to traffic. Help keep wolves wild. Don't feed them or approach them.