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
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