Cottonwood Borer

Cottonwood borer – All photos by Jim Mason Common Name: Cottonwood Borer Scientific Name: Plectrodera scalator Omigosh!! value: Very high   The cottonwood borer is a member of the long-horned beetle family, the Cerambycidae. It is the largest member of that family found on the Great Plains and is indeed one of the largest insects found in…

Read More

Kansas Cicadas

Kansas Cicadas Singing Insects written by Jim Mason Common Name: Annual Cicada Scientific Name: Tibicen pruinosa A.K.A.: The Harvestfly Weeee-oh, weeee-oh, weeee-oh, weeee-oh, weeee-oh, weeee-oh, weeee-oh – – – from late afternoon to dark, male cicadas call from their perches in the trees to attract a mate. Starting in mid-summer and continuing for about two months the choruses…

Read More

Regal Fritillary

Regal Fritillary female Regal Fritillary male Common Name: Regal Fritillary Scientific Name: Speyeria idalia Known only from: The Tallgrass Prairie of North America   The Regal Fritillary is one of the most striking butterflies to be found on the prairie. As a large “orange and black” butterfly, it may be confused with the Monarch if seen…

Read More

Monarch Butterflies

Monarch male All photos courtesy of Monarch Watch Common Name: Monarch butterfly Scientific Name: Danaus plexippus Favorite Winter Vacation Spots: The Transvolcanic Range in Mexico or the Pacific coast of California.   The Monarch butterfly is one the most readily recognized and beloved insects in North America. With its vivid orange and black markings and often…

Read More

Field Cricket

Female (left) and male (right)Photo by Jim Mason Common Name: Field Cricket Scientific Name: Gryllus assimilis Famous soloist in: Homes everywhere   Crickets are familiar members of the insect order Orthoptera, which also includes the grasshoppers and katydids. Members of this order all have large hind legs modified for jumping. Crickets become very noticeable in the autumn.…

Read More

Ornate Box Turtle Portrait

Female ornate box turtle.Photo by Bob Gress Male ornate box turtle.Photo by Bob Gress Common Name: Ornate Box Turtle Scientific Name: Terrapene ornata Award: Kansas State Reptile – 1986   The Ornate Box Turtle is one of two turtle species on the Great Plains that are terrestrial. The other land-dweller is its close cousin the Eastern Box…

Read More

Pronghorn Portrait

Pronghorn Antelope family.All photos by Bob Gress Common Name: Pronghorn Scientific Name: Antilocapra americana Favorite Hobby: racing cars   The most characteristic large mammal of the Great Plains is the Pronghorn.  While most people would associate the prairie with the American Bison, it had subspecies which were adapted to the woodland habitats of eastern North America…

Read More

Bison Portrait

Photo by Bob Gress Common Name: American Bison Scientific Name: Bos bison Least favorite century: The 1800’s   The most abundant grazing animal in North America was formerly the American Bison.  One estimate of the original number of bison in North America ranged as high as 70 million animals.  A single herd located southwest of…

Read More

American Beaver Portrait

Photo by Bob Gress Common Name: Beaver Scientific Name: Castor canadensis Motto: “Our bite is the source of our bark.” “Busy as a beaver,” goes the old saying, and that is especially true come autumn. Beaver modify their environment for their own purposes more than any other animal except man. Under their direction, a small stream flowing…

Read More

Fox Squirrel

Photo by Bob Gress Common Name: Fox Squirrel Scientific Name: Sciurus niger Favorite Hang-out: Walnut trees   Only one species of tree squirrel makes a living on the Great Plains, and that is the Fox Squirrel.   It is named for its rufous-colored fur.  Its range covers the eastern half of the United States except New England.  Introduced populations…

Read More