Snails, Leeches and Larvae, Oh My!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Matthew (8) and Gabriel (4) Staggs of Jackson work on a craft at the Nature Center at Night event at the Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center Thursday. The focus of this monthly series at the Nature Center was pond exploration, which went on despite rainy weather.

Mosquito larvae, snails, and leeches were special guests at the Missouri Department of Conservation's (MDC) Nature Center at Night event Thursday. This time, the event centered on pond exploration at the Cape Girardeau based Nature Center. Nature Center at Night is a once a month series of programs that make the Nature Center available to working families after the center's normal operating hours. MDC Naturalist Angela Pierce expressed the importance of this extra availability.

"We want to give working families a chance to learn important skills and discover nature on their own, without the pressure of making it here before the center closes," She said.

Despite the rain, Pierce and Nature Center volunteers scooped up giant water bugs, mosquito larvae, snails, leeches and many other aquatic organisms from the Kid's Fishing Pond in front of the Nature Center and brought them inside for participants to observe and identify.

There were also nature-themed arts and crafts projects for children inside the center.

Pierce said she hoped the participants went away from the event with a better understanding of the bigger picture of a pond and the many benefits the organisms found there have to offer.

"When most people think of ponds they think of fishing, which is important, but we wanted people to experience another side of the pond and get a close up look at some of those tiny creatures that are essential to the food chain within the pond," Pierce said.

The next Nature Center at Night event is entitled "Skulls and Bones" and is scheduled for Oct. 13 from 5 to 8 p.m.

For more information about this and other Discover Nature programs, contact the MDC's Nature Center in Cape Girardeau at (573) 290-5218 or go online to

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