Prairie reptiles and insects
When you’re out looking around on the ground for flowers, you tend to spot other lowly critters, too.
As mentioned in my last wildflower post, I saw a few eastern short-horned lizards out on a Kimball County shortgrass prairie.
Saw a lizard, too. For some reason, my camera wouldn’t focus on him when he was on the ground (too well camouflaged?). I had to photograph him on a boy’s sweatshirt sleeve.
I’m still on the lookout for rattlesnakes. Someone I know killed two of them near their home in Wildcat Hills last week. But no rattlesnakes spotted in Kimball. We did find a western hognosed snake, though. Wish I’d gotten a good picture of his original display posture, belly-up to show off a yellow, white, and black pattern, with bright pink mouth agape and black tongue lolling. (“I’m just a dead snake. Go away.”)
There were also plenty of insects.
Here’s another stinger. This may look like a large ant, but it’s too furry. It’s a “velvet ant”, which is actually in the wasp family. It was a beautiful coppery color, which does not show well in this photo. I wanted to get a better picture, but I was not about to poke my fingers into the grass to flush it out.
Speaking of noxious little insects, here’s a blister beetle, known for the chemical in its hemplymph (“bug blood”) that can cause blistering of the skin. And it was sitting on my hand. Oh goody. I just thought it was pretty as it was nom-nom-noming on some milkvetch flowers.
Here’s a darkling beetle. Saw many of these 2-inch beetles.
Must have been a good day for beetles to be “twitterpated.” There was plenty of, as a rancher put it, “bug porn.”
If you’ve hiked the Saddle Rock Trail at Scotts Bluff National Monument, it’s likely that you’ve seen some of these ground beetles running across the asphalt. They are fairly large, black beetles with impressive-looking pincers on the front. The blue racing stripe only shows up when the light hits it just right.
Not everybody appreciates these kinds of critters, but I’m married to an entomologist, so I’ve developed more of an interest in insects. As a decorative plate gifted from my mother-in-law reads: “all nature’s creatures are beautiful, even the small ones”.
Well, except maybe the parasites. I just can’t bring myself to enjoy the little blood-suckers. SLAP! Stupid mosquitoes!
Copyright 2010 by Katie Bradshaw