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  • Writer's pictureCharlene Sims, Journal staff

Curious crowd attends event on wildlife and plant dangers

By Charlene Sims, info@linncountyjournal.com


Jennifer Rader, left, talks about one of the many poisonous creatures she brought to her workshop on dangerous flora and fauna in the area. (Photos by Roger Sims/Linn County Journal)


PLEASANTON – The outdoors can be fraught with potential dangers. That includes running into species whose bites are venomous or brushing against a leafy plant that will lead to days of misery.


Wanting to know more about what to watch out for, nearly 50 people attended the “Poisonous, Venomous and other Potentially Hazardous Organisms of Eastern Kansas” workshop on Tuesday, May 28. That included about 20 children who learned about poisonous plants and venomous snakes during the program presented by Jennifer Rader, director of Southeast Kansas Nature Center Wildlife Education Services of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.


Linn County Emergency Management sponsored the free workshop, which provided an abundance of information on how to identify and avoid the dangerous plants, insects and reptiles in the county. Also included was information on mammals that spread diseases. 


Rader gave information about the different types of ticks in the county and the diseases that they carry. Besides wearing pants that are tucked into socks or boots,  and using insecticidal sprays, Rader suggested that people use a lint roller on their clothing after being outside in areas with ticks.


She said that she always carries one in her car, and after she’s been out in field, a quick once-over with the sticky roller will remove ticks from her clothing


Rader explained that the American dog tick and lone star ticks are the ones that spread Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Lyme disease is spread by deer ticks and Alpha Gal is spread by the lone star tick.


She explained that the ticks that people call seed ticks are really just the larvae or nymphs of the different tick varieties.  


A young attendee of the workshop has a face to face encounter with a couple of snakes.


Rader told the audience about the brown recluse spider and black widow spider, both of which have dangerous bites. She brought a plastic container with live brown recluse spiders to show an example of the spider whose bite destroys the skin tissue  and also can carry infection. 


The brown recluse is identified by a fiddle shaped mark on its back. They are found in undisturbed places that are warm, dry and dark. Outdoors they are often by rocks, utility boxes, woodpiles or under bark. Indoors, they can be found in beds, clothing and shoes. 


Rader said that black widow spiders can be found outdoors in grape clusters, garages, window wells and water meters. Their bite affects the nervous system. Symptoms of a black widow spider bite are hot flashes, severe pain, stiffness and muscle spasms throughout your body, including the abdomen, shoulders, chest and back. They are typically black and have a red hourglass shape on their abdomen.


Other insects Rader briefly touched on were scorpions, chiggers, oak mites, wasps and mosquitoes.


Rader discussed venomous snakes in eastern Kansas. The most prevalent are eastern copperhead and the timber rattlesnake. She said that while people talk about cottonmouth snakes or water moccasins, they are not usually seen in eastern Kansas.


She also said that most snake bites in this area are not treated with antivenin, commonly called anti-venom.  A majority of people with snake bites are observed at the hospital and may be given the antivenin, which needs to be monitored.


Mammals that Rader cautioned about being around were raccoons, opossums, armadillos and bats. Some, like raccoons and bats are known for carrying rabies. Opossums can carry salmonella. Rader explained that armadillos can carry leprosy but it can be treated with an antibiotic.


Rader had started out the workshop discussing poisonous plants and mushrooms. 


She pointed out that while many of the plants that were poisonous or caused rashes were uncomfortable for humans, they were beneficial as food sources for wildlife. 


The first plant she brought up was poison ivy, which can cause a severe rash in people who are sensitive to it. Avoiding poison ivy, “leaves of three, let them be” is the best way to not get it. 


One of the most common ways people contact the plant is from their animals that have walked through it and gotten its oil on their fur. For a person who is sensitive to the plant, one quick way to prevent the rash is to wash the area thoroughly with a detergent type soap and wash any clothing that was touched by it.


She said that some people are so sensitive to the urishioh oil of poison ivy that they can pick it up from furniture where someone who has it on their clothing has sat.


Poison oak is not located in this area. Chautauqua County on the southern border of Kansas is one of the few counties in Kansas with poison oak.


Next Rader explained how poison hemlock is very deadly and people should be careful when they are handling it, even if the are just pulling it out of the ground. It closely resembles wild carrot or Queen Anne’s Lace.


Other plants that are poisonous are pokeweed and death camas. While all parts of the pokeweed are poisonous, its general toxicity is considered to be low and has been used medicinally. On the other hand, death camas is highly toxic to humans causing a fatal reaction. Rader pointed out that death camas is similar in appearance to wild onion. She highly stressed that people should be very careful when working with any wild plants or mushrooms. She also cautioned that children should be taught to be very cautious.


At the end of the workshop, people viewed the exhibits Rader brought, which included snakes, spiders, displays and reference materials.  


Emergency Management Planner Linda Simons said that they were planning other free workshops in the future. Those workshops will be announced at a later date.


                                                                                                      

 PLEASANTON – The outdoors can be fraught with potential dangers. That includes running into species whose bites are venomous or brushing against a leafy plant that will lead to days of misery.


Wanting to know more about what to watch out for, nearly 50 people attended the “Poisonous, Venomous and other Potentially Hazardous Organisms of Eastern Kansas” workshop on Tuesday, May 28. That included about 20 children who learned about poisonous plants and venomous snakes during the program presented by Jennifer Rader, director of Southeast Kansas Nature Center Wildlife Education Services of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.


Linn County Emergency Management sponsored the free workshop, which provided an abundance of information on how to identify and avoid the dangerous plants, insects and reptiles in the county. Also included was information on mammals that spread diseases. 


Rader gave information about the different types of ticks in the county and the diseases that they carry. Besides wearing pants that are tucked into socks or boots,  and using insecticidal sprays, Rader suggested that people use a lint roller on their clothing after being outside in areas with ticks.


She said that she always carries one in her car, and after she’s been out in field, a quick once-over with the sticky roller will remove ticks from her clothing


Rader explained that the American dog tick and lone star ticks are the ones that spread Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Lyme disease is spread by deer ticks and Alpha Gal is spread by the lone star tick.


She explained that the ticks that people call seed ticks are really just the larvae or nymphs of the different tick varieties.  


Rader told the audience about the brown recluse spider and black widow spider, both of which have dangerous bites. She brought a plastic container with live brown recluse spiders to show an example of the spider whose bite destroys the skin tissue  and also can carry infection. 


The brown recluse is identified by a fiddle shaped mark on its back. They are found in undisturbed places that are warm, dry and dark. Outdoors they are often by rocks, utility boxes, woodpiles or under bark. Indoors, they can be found in beds, clothing and shoes. 


Rader said that black widow spiders can be found outdoors in grape clusters, garages, window wells and water meters. Their bite affects the nervous system. Symptoms of a black widow spider bite are hot flashes, severe pain, stiffness and muscle spasms throughout your body, including the abdomen, shoulders, chest and back. They are typically black and have a red hourglass shape on their abdomen.


Other insects Rader briefly touched on were scorpions, chiggers, oak mites, wasps and mosquitoes.


Rader discussed venomous snakes in eastern Kansas. The most prevalent are eastern copperhead and the timber rattlesnake. She said that while people talk about cottonmouth snakes or water moccasins, they are not usually seen in eastern Kansas.


She also said that most snake bites in this area are not treated with antivenin, commonly called anti-venom.  A majority of people with snake bites are observed at the hospital and may be given the antivenin, which needs to be monitored.


Mammals that Rader cautioned about being around were raccoons, opossums, armadillos and bats. Some, like raccoons and bats are known for carrying rabies. Opossums can carry salmonella. Rader explained that armadillos can carry leprosy but it can be treated with an antibiotic.


Rader had started out the workshop discussing poisonous plants and mushrooms. 


She pointed out that while many of the plants that were poisonous or caused rashes were uncomfortable for humans, they were beneficial as food sources for wildlife. 


The first plant she brought up was poison ivy, which can cause a severe rash in people who are sensitive to it. Avoiding poison ivy, “leaves of three, let them be” is the best way to not get it. 


One of the most common ways people contact the plant is from their animals that have walked through it and gotten its oil on their fur. For a person who is sensitive to the plant, one quick way to prevent the rash is to wash the area thoroughly with a detergent type soap and wash any clothing that was touched by it.


She said that some people are so sensitive to the urishioh oil of poison ivy that they can pick it up from furniture where someone who has it on their clothing has sat.


Poison oak is not located in this area. Chautauqua County on the southern border of Kansas is one of the few counties in Kansas with poison oak.


Next Rader explained how poison hemlock is very deadly and people should be careful when they are handling it, even if the are just pulling it out of the ground. It closely resembles wild carrot or Queen Anne’s Lace.


Other plants that are poisonous are pokeweed and death camas. While all parts of the pokeweed are poisonous, its general toxicity is considered to be low and has been used medicinally. On the other hand, death camas is highly toxic to humans causing a fatal reaction. Rader pointed out that death camas is similar in appearance to wild onion. She highly stressed that people should be very careful when working with any wild plants or mushrooms. She also cautioned that children should be taught to be very cautious.


At the end of the workshop, people viewed the exhibits Rader brought, which included snakes, spiders, displays and reference materials.  


Emergency Management Planner Linda Simons said that they were planning other free workshops in the future. Those workshops will be announced at a later date.


                                                                                                      

 

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