The conservation department usually establishes hunting seasons, but this is a key hunting season for the state agriculture department. Department experts are looking for a creature that’s about an inch and a half long…brown with some identifying stripes. They’re not dangerous at this stage. They’re just looking for a little romance. But it’s the byproducts of that romance that could be dangerous next spring. That’s why the agriculture department is trying to capture gypsy moths now. It’s their breeding season. . State entomologist Mike Brown says caterpillars, which will show up next May unless the prospective moth parents are kept from breeding, are the dangerous critters. They eat the leaves of hardwood trees at a ferocious rate. They don’t occur naturally in Missouri. They get here by hitching rides on vehicles coming from other states–thus the name “gypsy.” Brown says Missouri traps a couple dozen adult moths each year….helping this state escape the extensive damage several states to the east and north of us have had.