Photo of the Week – August 4, 2011

I just returned from a great week in southwestern Missouri.  The Missouri Department of Conservation invited me to come down and participate in a grassland workshop, and I was happy for an excuse to return to some prairies I’d last visited in 2007 – and also to see some new ones. 

Southwestern Missouri had almost no precipitation (and plenty of heat) during June and July this summer.  The nearly ubiquitous tall fescue pastures in the area were all crispy and brown, and the corn and soybean fields didn’t look much better.  Native prairies, on the other hand, while certainly drier than the last time I visited, still exhibited plenty of life.  I’ll report in more detail next week on some more detailed observations from the prairies and the patch-burn grazing being employed there.  For now, however, I’ll just share this photo of a giant grassland cicada (which is both the name and an apt description of this large noisy insect). 

A giant grassland cicada on compass plant - at the Missouri Department of Conservation's Taberville Prairie near Eldorado Springs, Missouri.

Much like during my recent trip to Indiana, the evening I chose to go off by myself and walk the prairie with my camera turned out to be scorching hot with little to no breeze.  Despite the heat, cicadas were both abundant and noisy, and after chasing several around for a while, I finally got one to sit still long enough for me to grab a few photos before it buzzed off once more.  This was one of the last shots I got before the sun finally sank below the horizon and I gratefully climbed into the air conditioned truck and headed for the motel.