21. Massachusetts: Hickory horned dᴇᴠɪʟ
Hickory horned dᴇᴠɪʟ (larva), regal moth or royal walnut moth (adult), is one of our largest and most spectacular moths. Like most other moths, it is nocturnal but is sometimes observed at lights. It most often observed when it is full grown and comes down from the trees to wander in search of a site for pupation.
The regal moth is a beautiful and fascinating member of our native fauna, and its larvae should not be ᴋɪʟʟed. If a larva is found crawling on pavement or in an area of thick turf grass where it would have difficulty burrowing, it should be moved to an area of soft soil or a mulched area where it can burrow for pupation.
Adult: The regal moth has a wingspan of 9.5 to 15.5 cm (Covell 2005). Females are larger than males. The forewings are gray to gray-green with orange veins and a row of seven to nine yellow spots near the distal margin. There also are single yellow discal and basal spots. The hind wing is mostly orange with a basal yellow spot and yellow patches (or spots) on the costal and ᴀɴᴀʟ margins. The hind wing may also have one to two rows of gray-green spots. The body is orange with narrow yellow banding.
Larva: The hickory horned dᴇᴠɪʟ is among the largest of our native saturniid caterpillars. It is 12.5 to 14 cm in length – about the size of a large hot dog. The caterpillars vary slightly in color, but are commonly blue-green. The second and third thoracic segments each bear two long and two shorter orange, black-tipped scoli (tubercles in the form of spinose projections of the body wall). The abdominal segments each have four short, black scoli, and segments 2 through 8 have a pale, oblique lateral stripe. Although the larva has a ꜰɪᴇʀᴄᴇ appearance, it is ʜᴀʀᴍless.
22. Michigan: Snapping turtles
The snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) is Ontario’s most prehistoric-looking turtle species. Its long tail has a series of triangular spikes along the top that are reminiscent of those of a stegosaurus.
The carapace (upper shell) is tan or olive to black in colour, has a coarsely serrated anterior (front) edge and three longitudinal ridges, and is often covered with algae. The plastron (lower shell) is very small. The maximum length of the carapace in this species is 47 centimetres.
23. Minnesota: Grey tree frog
The gray treefrog has “warty” green, brown or grey skin with large darker blotches on the back. Like many treefrogs, this species has large suction-cup-like toe pads. It has a white patch under each eye and is bright yellow-orange under the thighs. Adults may reach a length of six centimetres. The call of this species is a short flute-like trill.
24. Mississippi: Alligator gar
Alligator gars are easily distinguished from other freshwater species by their long, slender, cylindrical boᴅɪᴇs, long snouts, and diamond-shaped interlocking (ganoid) scales. The tail fin is rounded. Dorsal and ᴀɴᴀʟ fins are placed well back on the body and nearly opposite each other. Alligator gar is the largest of the gar species. It can grow up to 8 feet long and weigh more than 300 pounds. Adults have two rows of large teeth on either side of the upper jaw. Coloration is generally brown or olive above and lighter underneath. The species name spatula is Latin for “spoon”, referring to the creature’s broad snout.
25. Missouri: Scolopendra heros
It’s hard not to get the heebie-jeebies when looking at a photo of the giant desert centipede, the largest centipede in North America, and its 21 or 23 pairs of yellow legs, fangs, red head, and greenish-black body. The bright coloration is aposematic, meaning it should act as a ᴡᴀʀɴing to stay away. The centipede hunts invertebrates and small vertebrates including rodents and reptiles, sometimes reaching into the air to grab flying bugs, and uses its cell-ʀᴜᴘᴛᴜʀɪɴɢ, membrane-ᴄᴏᴍᴘʀᴏᴍɪsɪɴɢ ᴠᴇɴᴏᴍ to subdue its future food. It can also pinch with its last pair of legs to bring the ᴘᴀɪɴ according to the Missouri Department of Conservation.
26. Montana: Pronghorn
The pronghorn is a unique North American mammal. Its Latin name, Antilocapra americana, means “American goat-antelope,” but it is not a member of the goat or the antelope family and it is not related to the antelopes found in Africa. The pronghorn is the only surviving member of the Antilocapridae family and it has been in North America for over a million years!
The pronghorn has a deer-like body. It weighs between 90 and 120 pounds and stands about 31/2 feet tall from shoulder to feet. It has a tan to reddish brown body. Its cheeks, belly, rump, chest and inner legs are white. Males have a broad black mask that runs from their eyes down their snout to their nose, black neck patches and pronged black horns that are 12-20 inches long. The male’s horns are lyre-shaped and curve in towards each other.
The female does not have the black markings and her horns are usually straight, short spikes between 3-4 inches long. The pronghorn has horns, not antlers. Its horns are made of two parts: a bony core that is covered by a sheath made of a stiff hair-like material. It is the only animal that has branched horns and it it the only animal that sheds its horns each year! The outer sheath falls of every year in the fall and then grows back in the summer!
27. Nebraska: Nine-banded armadillo
Readily identified by the bony plates covering the head, back and tail, nine-banded armadillos are unique mammals. A broad shield covered with leathery skin protects the armadillo’s shoulders and hips while 7-10 bony “bands” are found along the mid-back and ribs. Some sources estimate these bony plates are 16 percent of the animal’s total weight. The underside lacks armor and is covered in hair. This limited amount of body hair may be the reason for the armadillo’s lower than the normal body temperature of other mammals. Most armadillo’s temperatures vary from 86-95 degrees. Burrowers, armadillos have strong legs and long claws on both fore and hind feet, leading to distinctive tracks. Four long, evenly-splayed toes are visible from the front foot, five on the hind.
28. Nevada: Cat-faced spider
The Cat-faced Spider is a common name shared by this species and a second North American spider. Its other common name, Jewel Spider, is also shared with an Australian spider. This name duplication illustrates the usefulness of using scientific names when addressing the identity of living things, which prompts gratitude for the work of Carl Linnaeus, the father of scientific nomenclature.
This ʜᴀʀᴍless spider is an angulate spider, meaning it has two pronounced bumps at the top of its abdomen. The ‘cat face’ on the abdomen is created by these two bumps, which form the cat’s ‘ears’, and the pattern in the center of the abdomen, which forms the ‘face’. This spider is usually up-side-down in the garden, preferring to sit with its head toward the ground. Each individual spider may vary in color. Some are quite pale; others are a rich, tawny brown. Usually, a large female is found hiding in plant leaves or debris off to the side of the web, waiting to sense a tremor on the threads of silk. Males are smaller. A female will create an egg sac that holds about a hundred fertilized eggs in it. This egg sac will overwinter and in the spring, the spiderlings emerge and disperse using silk lines to help carry them away to new homes.
29. New Hampshire: Buffalo treehopper
Easily recognizable by its greenish color and its humpback-like appearance, Buffalo Treehoppers have large heads that resemble those of a buffalo. Two protuberances come to a point at the widest part of the head. Their black tips mimic horns. The ridge on its back is brown and yellow and ends in a ‘tail’. Light yellow spots freckle the sides of the green body. Buffalo Treehoppers are related to cicadas and have wings that allow them to move quickly from plant to plant, where they lay eggs as well as collect for meals. Females cut a curved sliver into fresh, green stems and lay their eggs inside it or underneath leaves. The newly hatched nymphs will then drink the sap from the plant to the point the stem collapses. Nymphs and adults have the same body appearance, though the younger nymphs may have a pink antennae and a white powdery substance on them that eventually wears off. Larvae are covered in short spines that also eventually wear off.
Buffalo Treehopper adults also feed on the sap of various parts of plants including the leaves, fruit, stems, vegetables and flowers. They have an appetite for diversity and are capable of causing crop plants, garden plants and ornamentals to wilt and possibly ᴅɪᴇ. For this reason, they are considered a ᴘᴇsᴛ. Adults are most active in the summer and they begin to cluster together in the autumn to overwinter in debris, leaf litter or other areas that can offer some degree of insulation.
30. New Jersey: Periodical cicada
Periodical cicadas are insects classified in the order Hemiptera, along with aphids, leafhoppers, and shield bugs. Many species of insects are mistakenly referred to as “bugs,” but only hemipterans are considered to be “true bugs.” Adult periodical cicadas are black from above and orange underneath. They have bright red eyes and clear, membranous wings with black veins. They’re just over an inch (2.5 centimeters) in length with a three-inch (seven-centimeter) wingspan.
When cicadas come out, they’re eaten by just about anything with an insectivorous ᴅɪᴇt. The fact that cicadas emerge in the millions, however, makes them relatively resilient to predation. Even when a ton of them are eaten, there are still plenty more ready to mate and lay eggs.