Friday, September 24, 2010

Kansas Insects, Spiders & Other Arthropods

Image from KSU Insect Photo Gallery
EEK! A bug! Get it!

Wait... What sort of "bug" are you looking at? Do you see six legs, eight legs or too many legs to count? Will it wing, sting, sing or spring if you try to step on it? Just what are you threatening with your shoe?

Wiktionary defines bug as "a colloquial name for any insect, arachnid or other terrestrial arthropod." With this in mind most of us use the word, "bug," as a catch-all term for a large number of different creatures, most all of them members of a phylum (i.e. descriptive animal grouping) called Arthropoda or Arthropods. Spiders, ticks, centipedes and all insects are all arthropods. The phylum also includes aquatic animals such as crabs, shrimp and crayfish.

Terrestrial or air-breathing arthropods account for over 80% of all known living animal species. Kansas and the Great Plains are home to thousands of different varieties. They are both a bane and blessing to us. Some, notably the grasshopper, have in part fashioned our human history in the Sunflower State. Even today arthropods such as the bedbug, monarch butterfly, mosquito and tick can be news makers.

Below is a small selection of links to resources on insects, arachnids and other arthropods in Kansas and the Great Plains as well as some links to general information for students, teachers and the naturally curious. Bugs are a part of our daily lives on the prairie and getting a better idea of what they are and how they live is important.


Entomology for Kids
(Resources provided by the Kansas State University Libraries)

Entomology: K-12 Recommended Resources
(An excellent list of resources available for studying insects, etc. Provided by Iowa State University)

Collecting and Preserving Insects and Mites
(So you'd rather display bugs than step on them? This website provided by the US Department of Agriculture offers you the tools and techniques in creating your own bug museum)

Iowa Insects, Spiders, and Other Invertebrates
(Though you're not in Kansas any more this guide provides excellent, easy to understand descriptions of the major groups of "bugs")
(An online community of naturalists who enjoy learning about and sharing observations of insects, spiders, and other related creatures)

Fossil Insects
(Arthropods have been around for millions of years. Here's a short presentation provided by the Kansas Geological Survey on insect remains preserved in fossils)


Checklist of Kansas Insects
(From the book Insects in Kansas)

Kansas Insects
(From the Great Plains Nature Center website)

Insects of the Konza Prairie
(A long-term program at the Konza Prairie Biological Station (KPBS) to study insect diversity in a natural tallgrass prairie ecosystem began in 2001. The goal is to develop baseline survey information on selected insect groups, to develop the holdings of the Kansas State University Museum of Entomological and Prairie Arthropod Research (KSU-MEPAR), and to make specimens, taxon names, and associated information for insect groups collected available to the scientific community)

The Kansas School Naturalist
(An excellent source of information on nature in Kansas, especially for students. Many of the issues are now online. Quite a few issues cover Kansas spiders, insects and invertebrates. Provided by the Department of Biological Sciences at Emporia State University)

K-State Museum of Entomological and Prairie Arthropod Research
(A research collection of about 824,000 specimens housed at Kansas State University)

The Insect Zoo
(Located next to the K-State Gardens at Kansas State University. Open to the public Tuesday-Saturday, 12:00-6:00pm and by appointment)

University of Kansas Division of Entomology
(Includes a searchable specimen database of Division collections, Insect videos and information on the University's Bee Collection)


Introduction to the Identification of Insects and Related Arthropods
(An excellent identification guide with some really cool black and white drawings. By P.M. Choate)

Kansas Insect Diagnostician
(Working through your local county extension office you can find out just what sort of bug you've got in that mayonnaise jar. Provided as a service by the Kansas State University's Department of Entomology. There is also an online pamphlet explaining instructions for submitting insect samples)

Insect Photo Gallery
(Provided by the Kansas State University Department of Entomology. Many of the graphics are of agricultural and gardening insect pests)

Facts & Information on Household Pests
(Identification of the bugs people like to swat provided by the Kansas State University Department of Entomology)


(The Kansas State Insect. Provided by the Great Plains Nature Center)

Butterflies in Kansas
(Provided by the Great Plains Nature Center)

Butterfly Links
(Provided by the South Dakota Department of Education)

(Also known colloquially as harvestflies or incorrectly as locusts. Provided by the Great Plains Nature Center. Listen to the call of a cicada in this YouTube video)

Common Spiders
(A guide to common spiders in Kansas provided by Kansas State University Research and Extension)

Checklist of Kansas Orbweaving Spiders
(Article from Kansas School Naturalist. Includes a page with great images of spiders)

Checklist of Kansas Jumping Spiders
(Article from Kansas School Naturalist. Includes a page with great images of spiders)

An Historic Look At Grasshoppers
(Kansas Memory provides some original source material on the perennial battle between Kansans and the grasshopper)

Bed Bugs
(The latest bug in the news, this short page provides basic information on bed bugs which are making their presence known in Kansas homes and businesses. The University of Kansas' Student Health Services also provides a pamphlet on bed bugs)

(Much of this material can be borrowed on interlibrary loan from the State Library or other holding libraries in the ATLAS library consortium. The Kansas State Historical Society, a research library, does not lend out its books)

Insects -- Kansas
Spiders -- Kansas
Cicadas -- Kansas
Grasshoppers -- Kansas
Bees -- Kansas
Bee culture

Article by: Bill Sowers
Please use the "Comments" link/box below for questions and comments.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Kansas Quilters and Kansas Quilts

As pioneers came west to homestead and create new cities and states, they brought their lives with them. That included their quilts, patterns, needlework and history. So it’s only natural that some of their legacy can be woven together by researching and documenting their quilts.

A number of contemporary Kansas authors and quilters have done just that over the last quarter century. In addition, 20th and 21st century quilters have paid homage to their foremothers by either recreating the quilts from early Kansas statehood days and the Civil War or by using those earlier quilts as inspiration for new quilts.

Women have used needlearts and crafts through the centuries to express their views, their feelings, and to support political movements and ideas. It should come as no surprise that they created quilts to accomplish those very things.

Today reproduction fabrics, patterns, classes and tools allow 21st century quilters to explore creating quilts that harken back to the last half of the 19th century. Lawrence, KS is home to several quilt historians and researchers – and also to a collection of historic quilts (held at Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas).

These local quilters are nationally renowned and recognized for their research and writings.

One of them is Barbara Brackman
Brackman’s publications include:

--Quilts from the Civil War

--Civil War Women: Their quilts, their roles, activities for re-enactors (2000)

--Kansas Quilts & Quilters (1993) - The findings of the Kansas Quilt Project
collected into a book that gives the history, not only of Kansas quilts, but of
quiltmaking in general.

The Underground Railroad is a popular area of research and study, and quilts made to remember both the path to freedom in the North and the sympathizers and former slaves are still being created. One recent book by Brackman attempts to put to rest the myths and legends surrounding quilts and the Underground Railroad, and focus on historic facts, pattern histories, and fabric dating to shed light on the true role played by quilts and quilters in this historic era.

Facts & Fabrications: Unraveling the Story of Quilts and Slavery (2006)
A fundamental source of information and inspiration for contemporary quilters interested in quilt history is the book “Hearts and Hands: The influence of women & quilts on American Society” (1987), published by the Quilt Digest Press. One quilt in particular in that book (pp 70-71) distills and illustrates the deep influence and meaning that quilts played both in political movements and the lives of those affected.

The quilt pictured in the photo is an unknown pattern (but could be Birds in the Air). It was made by Deborah Coates, Lancaster County, PA, ca. 1840-1850, pieced silks with stamp work. Here’s the story of that one quilt, and how it continues its influence today (excerpted from the book “Hearts and Hands”):

The Coates family of Lancaster County, Penn. Was well-known in the early part of the nineteenth century. Lindley Caotes was documented by traditional history as he was a prominent and active abolitionist, a Quaker who was among the organizers of the Anti-Slavery Society (1833) and who preceeded William Lloyd Garrison as president of the AASA in 1840.

What we know of Coates’s wife’s role and her abolitionist sentiments has been recorded in a very subtle, indeed fragile, manner: it has come to us quietly and directly, sewn into the center of her elegant quilt. Were it not for a family what has kept the oral history of the quilt alive, we might have missed Deborah Coates’s message altogether. According to the family, two granddaughters of the maker could not agree on who should inherit the precious quilt, and so, with the Quaker sense of equality, it was decided to cut the quilt exactly in half.

When the raw edges were bound over, the small central image was almost totally obscured. All that remained to be seen were a tiny foot on one quilt half and the edge of an arm on the other. Finally, the two halves came down together to a single descendant, along with the story of what lay within the seams. Recently, under the direction of a conservator, the bindings were opened and the fractured image was brought together for the photograph. In researching family history related to the quilt, a descendant has recently discovered that Lindley and Deborah Coates’s home in Sadsbury, Lancaster County, Penn. was Station #5 on one of the many routes of the Underground Railroad. This was clearly a family which found a variety of ways to express a strong moral commitment to justice and the emancipation of slaves.

“Deliver me from the oppression of man.” The image of the bound slave was inked onto a triangle near the center of this amazing quilt.

The quilt below was recreated, using cotton fabrics, in a wall sized reproduction for the book Quilts from the Civil War. The quilt hangs in the Northeast Kansas Library System offices in Lawrence, KS on loan from maker Patti Wiggins Mersmann Butcher.


Heartland quilt network (great resource to find quilters and organizations)

Quilters who blog

Barbara Brackman

Deb Rowden

Linda Frost

Ruth Powers

Alma Allen and Barb Adams


Terry Clothier Thompson

Sue Spargo

Jan Patek

Kansas quilters organization




Kansas City

by Patti Butcher, Lawrence KS