Dainty wildflowers brighten the brown blanket of dead leaves. How many of these beauties can you spot this spring?
Ounce for ounce, the eastern hercules beetle might be Missouri’s mightiest animal. The 2-inch-long insects can carry more than 100 times their weight. If you were that strong, you could easily pick up a pickup.
What’s better than finding a mess of morels? Eating them! These mouthwatering mushrooms pop up on forest floors in mid-April. Morels are yummy, but some mushrooms are poisonous. Always get a grownup to help you identify fungi.
Harvestmen — aka daddy longlegs — creep over leaves on their long, spindly legs. These close relatives of spiders, mites, and scorpions are harmless to humans. The idea that they possess deadly venom is a myth.
If a hungry bird grabs a harvestman by the leg, the creeping creature parts ways with its limb. The detached leg twitches, giving the harvestman time to sneak away. Unfortunately, the missing leg never grows back.
Sift through layers of leaves, and you’ll uncover a host of critters with more legs than most.
Centipedes can deliver a painful bite, and many millipedes release a stinky liquid that can burn skin. It’s best to observe these creatures without picking them up.
Several kinds of lizards hunt and hide among the leaves. Keep your eyes peeled for these quick and colorful reptiles.
Angie Daly Morfeld