Into The Wild

By |
From Xplor: May/June 2020

Farms don’t just grow crops and cattle. They also grow bees, butterflies, and all kinds of other animals.

What Happened Here?

If you get too close to a killdeer’s chicks, mom or pop will pretend to have a broken wing. The parent will thrash around and drag its wing pitifully, hoping you will follow it away from the babies.

Did You Know?

Eastern kingbirds are named for the “crown” of orange or golden feathers on top of their heads. But this colorful patch is usually seen only when a kingbird is angry.


Several harmless snakes slither around pastures and fields. They help farmers by eating rodents, which can become crop pests when their numbers grow too large.

Take a Closer Look

Search milkweed plants carefully — especially under the leaves — and you might find monarch caterpillars. The baby butterflies munch milkweed, which contains poisonous chemicals. They store the chemicals in their bodies, which makes them poisonous to birds and other predators.


Planting wildflowers along field edges attracts flower-friendly insects like bees. How many of these buzzy, hard-working insects can you find?

  • Bumblebee
  • Sweat bee
  • Leafcutter bee
  • Mason bee
  • Long-horned bee


Unplanted fields are a great place to watch for wild turkeys and northern bobwhites. Adults visit the fields to take dust baths. Chicks come to snap up insects to eat.

Did You Know?

Newly hatched northern bobwhites are barely bigger than a bumblebee. And even though they weigh only as much as six small paper clips, the little fluffballs can scurry around and catch insects soon after exiting their eggs.


Coyotes usually begin yapping and howling right after sunset. Although it sounds spooky, there’s nothing to fear. It’s how coyotes talk to each other. A coyote might howl to tell other coyotes, “I’m lonely,” “Stay away,” or “Let’s find some rabbits to eat.”

Also In This Issue

American Burying Beetle
No other animals on Earth are more successful than these insects.
Lizard or salamander? Missouri’s only newt can pass for both.

This Issue's Staff

Bonnie Chasteen
Les Fortenberry
Angie Daly Morfeld
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
David Stonner
Stephanie Thurber
Cliff White