Plants and Animals

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Species of Concern

Ozark Big-eared Bat

  • Common Name: Ozark Big-eared Bat
  • Scientific Name: Corynorhinus townsendii ingens
  • Range: Western U.S. & cave regions of the Eastern U.S.
  • Classification: State and federally endangered
  • To learn more about endangered species: see links listed below.

This strange-looking creature’s name comes from the naturalist who first described it, John K. Townsend, M.D., and from its oversized ears, which reach the middle of its 4-inch body when folded back. During the winter it stays in caves and old mines. In summer, it may be found in rocky crevices, beneath loose tree bark and in hollow trees. It navigates at night by emitting high-pitched sounds and listening for echoes from solid objects. Three big-ears banded at a cave and released 28 miles away appeared back at the banding site in two days. Moths are the big-ear’s main food. Wild individuals are known to have lived 16 years. The much less common Rafinesque’s big-eared bat (Corynorhinus rafinesquii) has been found in Cape Girardeau and Stone counties.

Grubby Fish

To eat or not to eat depends on what you can stomach.

Do you ever find little critters in a fish you caught and wonder if the flesh is safe to eat? The answer is yes, if you aren’t too grossed out. Parasitic worms known as flukes are fairly common in bass, bluegill and other sunfish. In their larval form, they appear as black spots on a fish’s skin. Mature flukes are white or yellow grubs the size of peas. They live inside the fish’s muscles. They are not dangerous to people as long as fish are cooked thoroughly.

A Blaze of Glory

Blazing star lights up late-summer prairies.

The wild explosion of brilliant petals and stamens that marks these prairie wildflowers reminded settlers of sunbeams. Members of this genus—Liatris—range from 2 to 5 feet tall. Although each produces spikes of rose-purple blooms, they have very different appearances. The flowers of prairie blazing star (L. pycnostachya) look like decorative bottlebrushes. Rough, scaly and eastern blazing star (L. aspera, squarrosa and scariosa) flowers look much more like those of thistles. Hardy and drought-resistant, these perennials make stunning displays of color in spots where tender loving care is not an option. In fact, over-watering or fertilization may reduce blazing stars’ vigor. Butterflies love these flamboyant blossoms, which appear in July and August.

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