The DNR communications team works with agency experts to develop the weekly questions and provide the answers. This feature addresses current DNR issues, interesting topics, or the most frequently asked questions from around Minnesota.
Q: I heard about the DNR’s youth waterfowl hunt. How does the program work?
A: Experienced mentors take youth ages 12 to 15 out hunting on Minnesota Youth Waterfowl Day on Saturday, Sept. 13.
Youth learn about waterfowl habitat and how to hunt safely and have fun. We’ve found that mentors can have a profoundly positive experience on youth who show an interest in hunting. Early positive experiences help keep youth going back into the duck blind, field or deer woods year after year as they grow up and as adults.
For the youth waterfowl hunt, the application deadline is Monday, Aug. 11. When a youth applies, their name is placed in a lottery in case there are too many who want to hunt, but preference is given to new hunters. Once chosen for a hunt, the youth and a parent or guardian go to an orientation that includes waterfowl identification, calling techniques, decoy arrangements, ethics and more on Friday, Sept. 12. The hunts take place on the following day in several areas around the state and in the Twin Cities metro area.
Ducks Unlimited, the U.S. National Wildlife Service, Minnesota Horse & Hunt Club, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources have teamed up to offer the hunts. Find more information and the application form at www.mndnr.gov/discover.
Mike Kurre, DNR mentoring program coordinator
Q: I hear a lot about invasive insects like emerald ash borer and gypsy moths, but what are some of the good bugs that help keep our forests healthy?
A: There are many more beneficial insects than insect pests; we just don’t hear about them as often. One beneficial insect, the friendly fly, is named for its habit of repeatedly landing on people without biting. The larvae of this fly feed on forest tent caterpillars inside their cocoons. During the third or fourth year of a caterpillar outbreak in Minnesota, the friendly fly can kill nearly 90 percent of the cocoons.
Parasitic wasps also keep insect populations in check. Most parasitic wasps are extremely small, which is why we don’t usually see them at work. There are thousands of different species, none of which sting people, but nearly every insect species is attacked by parasitic wasps during at least one life stage. Beneficial wasps feed on pests such as spruce budworm, gypsy moth, fall webworm and emerald ash borer.
Many types of beetles, the largest and most diverse group of insects, are predacious and feed on aphids, scale insects, caterpillars, other beetles and more. The larvae of one beetle family called checkered beetles feed on harmful wood-boring insects such as bark beetles, potentially preventing an outbreak.
Val Cervenka, DNR forest health program coordinator
Q: What are the characteristics of old-growth forests, and where in Minnesota can you find them?
A: While the characteristics can vary depending on the type of forest, old-growth forests are generally at least 120 years old, having never been significantly disturbed by logging, fire or storms during that time. These forests have a mix of young, old and middle aged trees, and many include very large trees that can measure 2 to 3 feet across. Old-growth forests typically contain large dead standing trees, small gaps in the overhead canopy and lots of woody debris on the forest floor.
Today, less than 4 percent of Minnesota's old-growth forests remain, but there are some great examples protected in our state parks and scientific and natural areas (SNA's). For example, Spring Beauty Northern Hardwoods SNA, Tettegouche State Park and Itasca State Park all contain stands of old-growth forest. More information and places to visit are available on DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/forests_types/oldgrowth.
Jon Nelson, DNR forest policy and planning supervisor
Q: What are the hottest and coldest temperatures on record for the Minnesota State Fair?
A: The hottest day in the history of the Minnesota State Fair was on Sept. 10, 1931, with 104 degrees. The hottest average temperature for the duration of any State Fair back to 1885 is also 1931 with 92.6 degrees. Note that the Minnesota State Fair in 1931 ran eight days from September 5 to 12. Last year was the third warmest fair on record with an average of 88.2 degrees, and it also had the most 90-degree high temperatures on record with six days.
The coolest Minnesota State Fair was during the six-day run of the fair from Sept. 5 to 10, 1898, with an average maximum temperature of 64.2 degrees. The coldest maximum temperature for the fair was 52 degrees on Sept. 7, 1911, and the coldest minimum temperature is 33 degrees on Sept. 13, 1890. The coolest fair morning in recent years was a chilly 36 degrees on Sept. 1, 1974.
- Pete Boulay, climatologist, DNR Ecological and Water Resources Division