Monthly Archives: March 2015

Comma Butterflies


Comma Butterflies

by Ted Beringer

If you’ve been walking through the woods this early March in northeast Kansas before any leaves have appeared on the trees and long before any nectar producing flowers have begun to bloom, you might be surprised to see a butterfly. If you do, it is probably the Eastern Comma butterfly.

This butterfly has orange on the dorsal surface of both forewings and hindwings in the late winter and spring. Unlike Monarchs that migrate to this latitude only after warm weather has prompted flowers to bloom, the Comma butterfly has hibernated over the winter right here, probably under some leaf litter. Comma butterflies survive by drinking tree sap from broken branches or stumps as temperatures allow sap to flow in late winter.


There are two butterflies in this photo. Notice their scalloped wings. One butterfly has its wings spread open displaying its orange dorsal surface. The other butterfly’s wings are closed, showing only the dorsal surface decorated with an elaborate pattern of tans, browns & whites. This pattern easily camouflages the butterfly from the bark on the tree stump to which it is attached and any leaf litter around it. It is using its proboscis to drink tree sap from the stump. If you look very carefully on the underside of its hindwing, you can detect a very small white, comma-shaped mark with an expanded knob at both ends.

In the summer, Comma butterflies will also feed on rotting fruit. Nettle, wood nettle & false nettle all serve as hosts for their larvae (caterpillars).

For excellent photos of the ovum, larva (caterpillar) & pupa of the Comma butterfly visit



Steve Sorensen, Conservation Vice President

Steve_SorenesenHometown: Valley  Center
Occupation: Retired, KDWP  biologist and regional supervisor
Leadership Roles: KWF Life Member, newsletter editor; and former president; former chair of the  Kansas Audubon Council; former president of the Kansas Chapter of The Wildlife  Society; National Rifle Association Life member; Ducks Unlimited Life member.

Breaking New Ground


Agricultural producers are reminded to consult with FSA and NRCS before breaking out new ground for production as doing so without prior authorization may put a producer’s federal farm program benefits in jeopardy. This is especially true for land that must meet Highly Erodible Land (HEL) and Wetland Conservation (WC) provisions.

Producers with HEL determined soils must apply tillage, crop residue and rotation requirements as specified in their conservation plan.  

Producers should notify FSA prior to conducting land clearing or drainage projects to ensure compliance.  If you intend to clear any trees to create new cropland, these areas will need to be reviewed to ensure any work will not risk your eligibility for benefits.  

Landowners and operators can complete form AD-1026 Highly Erodible Land Conservation (HELC) and Wetland Conservation (WC) Certification to determine whether a referral to Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is necessary. 


State seeks national designation for Arkansas River

National water trail status would benefit the public, the river and local communities


Following on the success of the Kansas River being named a national water trail by the National Park Service (NPS) in July 2012, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) wants the same designation for a portion of the Arkansas River in Kansas. That goal is a little closer thanks to technical assistance KDWPT will receive from the NPS Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance program to develop the designation application. The goal is national water trail recognition for the Arkansas River Water Trail from Great Bend downstream to the Oklahoma border, a network of public river access points providing recreational and conservation opportunities, as well as enhancing the prospects for communities and businesses to attract enthusiastic river-goers and boost local revenues.

The Arkansas River is classified as a “navigable water,” so the right of the public to travel on the water is protected by law. The river provides over 180 miles of publicly navigable water and riparian wildlife habitat in Kansas. The public may use the waterway between the ordinary high-water marks on each bank, but people aren’t allowed to trespass on private property adjacent to the river. As a result, it is important to establish reasonably-spaced public access points at suitable locations. Currently, the Arkansas River Water Trail includes more than 15 public access sites established in partnership with cities, counties and private landowners. KDWPT will work with the NPS to engage additional partners and stakeholders, set priorities to analyze issues and opportunities, improve public information resources, and achieve the national water trail designation.

“Designating the Arkansas River as a national water trail will help draw tourists who enjoy leisurely excursions and want to experience Kansas in a unique way,” said KDWPT Secretary Robin Jennison. “Many people might not think of our state as a place to take a river trip, but the Arkansas and Kansas rivers offer some really great opportunities to get outdoors and enjoy parts of the state that are often overlooked.”

According to Jessica Mounts, KDWPT district fisheries biologist, the project is community-driven and individuals and groups interested in water trail development are encouraged to volunteer. Planning meetings will begin in March, 2015. For more information on meeting dates and locations, contact Jessica Mounts at 316-683-8069 or email [email protected].

Deer seasons to be set at March 26 Commission meeting

Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission will meet in Topeka


Deer, antelope, and elk hunting seasons for 2015-2016 will be determined when the Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission meets on March 26. The meeting will be held at the Kansas Museum of History, 6425 SW 6th Ave., Topeka.

The meeting will begin at 1 p.m. with time for public comments on non-agenda items, followed by a general discussion period. Topics covered in the general discussion include Secretary’s remarks regarding agency and state fiscal status; an update on the 2015 legislative session; a briefing of the department strategic plan; an update on tourism division activities; a preview of the new department website; webless migratory birds, early migrant bird seasons; and the Fort Riley deer season.

Workshop topics for the afternoon session, which will be discussed for potential regulatory action at a future meeting, include public land regulations.

The commission will recess at 5 p.m., then reconvene at 6:30 p.m. at the same location to discuss any remaining workshop items and begin the public hearing. Public hearing items to be discussed and voted on during the evening session include season dates, bag limits, and permit requirements for antelope, elk, and deer. Secretary’s Orders for deer permits will also be discussed.

Time will be available in both the afternoon and evening sessions for public comment on non-agenda items. If necessary, the commission will reconvene at the same location at 9 a.m., March 27, to complete any unfinished business.

Live video and audio streaming of the meeting can be accessed by visiting

If notified in advance, the department will have an interpreter available for the hearing impaired. To request an interpreter, call the Kansas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing at 1-800-432-0698. Any individual with a disability may request other accommodations by contacting the Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission secretary at (620) 672-5911.

The next commission meeting is scheduled for April 23, 2015 at the Great Plains Nature Center, 6232 East 29th St. N, Wichita.



Fly Fishing Film Tour at Great Plains Nature Center March 28

A total of 12 independent fly fishing films will be shown


The Flatland Flyfishers and the Great Plains Nature Center (GPNC) will host the 2015 Fly Fishing Film Tour March 28 at the nature center, 6232 E. 29th St. N, Wichita, in an effort to raise money for local youth education and conservation projects.

Tickets are $10 each and can be purchased at the door, online at, or at Backwoods, Ark River Anglers, and Zeiner’s Bass in Wichita.

Activities will begin at 5 p.m. with fly tying demonstrations, fly rods for casting, and apparel and equipment on display. Films will begin promptly at 7 p.m.

For more information, contact Rick Brown at (316) 655-9909 or Dawn Welty at (316) 264-2827, or visit

Sponsors for this event include Backwoods Wichita, Classic Destiny Rods, Zeiner’s Bass Shop, and Ark River Anglers.


Kansas has no firearms-related fatalities during 2014 hunting seasons


Hunter Education continues to be catalyst for safe firearm practices afield


Each year, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) compiles a summary of all reported hunting incidents as a way to assess safety issues afield and address any potential areas for improvement in Hunter Education programs. The 2014 Kansas Hunter Education Hunting Incident Report is now available and although the total number of incidents has slightly increased from 2013, Kansas has had no firearms-related fatalities for three years running.

A total of twelve reported hunting incidents took place during the 2014 hunting seasons, and although the details surrounding each incident vary, all were preventable. A breakdown of the 2014 incidents is as follows:

– Five incidents of hunters unsafely swinging on game

– Three incidents of careless gun handling

– Two incidents of victims moving into the line of fire

– One incident of a hunter stepping onto his own broadhead that was left on the ground

– One incident of a hunter injured by a dog stepping on a shotgun left on the ground

Hunting remains one of the safest outdoor activities when compared to the millions of hunter days recorded by Kansas hunters each fall. It’s because of the efforts of volunteer Kansas Hunter Education instructors, and the thousands of students who have learned from them, that Kansans can safely enjoy and continue our great hunting heritage.

If you, or someone you know, is interested in taking a Hunter Education course and continuing good hunting practices into the 2015 seasons and beyond, visit and click “Services/Education/Hunter” for more information.


The case of the vanishing bees

Pesticides & The Perfect Crime:

On a fine June morning last year at a Target store outside Portland, Oregon, customers arrive to a startling sight: the parking lot was covered with a seething mat of bumblebees, some staggering around, most already dead, more raining down from above. The die-off lasted several days.

It didn’t take long to figure out that the day before a pest-control company had sprayed a powerful insecticide on surrounding Linden trees to protect them from aphids; but nobody warned the bees to stay away. In the end, an estimated 50,000 bumblebees perished.

The tragedy at Target wiped out as many as 300 bumblebee colonies of bees no longer available to pollinate nearby trees and flowers.

The deadly pesticide is one of a fairly new family known as the neonicotinoids—“neonics” for short—developed a decade or so ago to replace organophosphates and carbamates, which are also highly toxic but dissipate far more quickly.

Learn how “neonics” are turning the sweet lives of bees sour. View Infographic »