That dried out, old Christmas tree is good for more than firewood. It can become a home for fish. The Missouri Department of Conservation is accepting donated natural trees to establish fish habitats in two St. Louis-area lakes. Officials say man-made lakes don't have much fish habitat, and the trees provide a woody sanctuary.
Conservation crews tie the Christmas trees to concrete blocks and sink them in 4 to 7 feet of water where the trees attract invertebrates -- a good food source for small fish, which then attract larger fish. Young fish also can hide among the trees.
Donated trees will be accepted until January 13th at Creve Coeur Lake and at Lake 34 in the August A. Busch Conservation Area.
Conservation experts aren't sure why, but it seems the yellow jacket population is bigger than usual in the St. Louis area this year.
Mike Arduser of the Missouri Department of Conservation told Fox 2 News that the number of calls they've gotten regarding yellow jackets has doubled since last year. "Yellow jackets are always present and always abundant this time of year, because their colony cycle peaks right about now," he says.
And that can be a problem when the flying, stinging insects nest too close to humans. Consumers can buy products to kill the pests themselves, but for large nests, it may be best to call in a professional.
Dr. Anthony Scalzo with the Missouri Poison Center at Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center told Fox 2 that too many wasp stings can be dangerous. Dr. Scalzo says even people who are not allergic can die from too many stings. "In a toddler, maybe greater than five stings per couple of pounds of body weight" can be fatal, he says. "In an adult it could be, technically, as few as 30-50 stings from a wasp."
That's one reason Arduser says wasp and yellow jacket nests should be left alone if the insects aren't bothering anyone. "They're part of the landscape now," he says. "You just have to sort of learn to live with them like mosquitoes or horseflies or something else. They'll be gone soon, as soon as it gets cold.
The Department of Conservation says a conservation area in Lincoln County north of St. Louis recorded 7,000 snow geese, with an estimated 15,000 birds in the surrounding area.
Snow geese spend the winter in Missouri and other southern areas of their range. They return north to the Arctic to nest.
The birds are common in marshes, rivers, lakes and crop fields. They move constantly to seek a place to feed.