The Fall Armyworm got that name because its species move across fields together like an army.
Mudpuppies get that name because of the “somewhat embellished idea that their squeaky vocalizations sound like a dog’s bark,” according to National Geographic.
Those are two of several intriguing animals found in Kansas, and others include the Bold Jumping Spider, Eastern Hercules Beetle, and Wilson’s Snipe.
Here’s more about those five compelling creatures.
the army worm
Fall armyworms invade fields or landscapes in large groups and can cause a lawn to brown at night, sometimes eating the grass to the ground.
The species undergoes a metamorphosis during its life from egg to larvae, pupa and adult moth. It damages crops in the larval stage.
The Fall Armyworm’s diet consists mainly of grasses and grain crops such as corn. Feeding takes place late at night and into the early morning hours, according to the Hutchinson News.
The species does more damage in early fall in Kansas and late fall in Texas and other areas south of the Sunflower State.
Young armyworms are one-half to three-quarters of an inch in length, while adult specimens can grow up to 1.5 inches in length.
the mud puppy
The mud puppy is one of the few salamanders that make noise.
Mud puppies are rarely seen as they seek shelter under logs, rocks or vegetation. They tend to grow up to 13 inches tall here.
The mudpuppy is only present in the southeastern and south-central parts of Kansas, in the Marais des Cygnes, Neosho and Verdigris drainage basins, also in ponds, lakes and streams, the Kansas Herpetofaunal Atlas said.
The Mudpuppy has a large flattened, square head, small eyes and a pair of conspicuous, red feathered gills on each side of its head, it said.
The mud puppy’s eyes have no lids, and each of its limbs has four toes, said the Springfield, Mo., News-Leader.
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Oriental Hercules Beetle
Named after the Greek demigod known for his size and strength, the eastern Hercules beetle is extremely large and strong compared to other beetles, the Missouri Department of Conservation said.
The males can grow to almost an inch in length and have horns, which they use to fight to see which beetles get the best nesting sites. The females have no horns.
Eastern Hercules Beatles are harmless to humans. As caterpillar-like larvae, they help enrich the soil by eating rotting wood, according to the Springfield News-Leader.
“You can find Hercules beetles in woods or around lights at night,” it said.
The numbers of the species can decrease rapidly due to invasive ash borers. Rotten ash trees are the favorite larval farms of the eastern Hercules beetle, the news leader said.
Fat Jumping Spider
The daring jumping spider has eight eyes, including four on the front, according to the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks Facebook page.
That species is one of several jumping spiders found in Kansas, it said.
Jumping spiders are probably the largest group of spiders in Kansas and are common in yards from spring through fall.
Jumping spiders have very keen eyesight, which aids them in hunting and courting. They can also see in color.
Unlike some spiders, jumping spiders can be an “excellent addition” to one’s home because they prey on insects, such as flies, and usually don’t establish breeding populations in the home, according to the KDWP Facebook page.
The Wilson’s Snipe has a very long bill. That species, also known as snipe, is named after Alexander Wilson, a highly regarded ornithologist of the early 1800s.
The Wilson’s Snipe is one of two species of shorebirds that can be hunted in Kansas, according to the KDWP’s Facebook page.
The species nests in Canada and the northern US and begins arriving in Kansas at the end of the summer. It can stay all winter.
Wilson’s Snipes are usually about 10.5 inches long and prefer to forage on mudflats and in water less than 3 inches deep in wetlands and along coastlines.
They use their 2- to 3-inch-long bills to dig in the mud for animal food such as aquatic insect larvae and earthworms, according to the KDWP website.
Tim Hrenchir can be reached at email@example.com or 785-213-5934.