The Ozark Trail is a renowned resource for recreational activities. Perhaps less well appreciated are the outstanding opportunities for nature study it also offers. Traversing some of the state’s most pristine areas, numerous plants and animals make their homes in the diverse natural habitats found along its length. While reptiles, birds, and mammals may be the most conspicuous animals encountered, they are far from the most diverse or numerous. That honor belongs overwhelmingly to the insects.
The Mission of the Ozark Trail Association is to develop, maintain, preserve, promote and protect the rugged, natural beauty of the Ozark Trail.–Ozark Trail Association
“Bugged on the Ozark Trail” is a short, fun article describing just a few of the insects hikers can expect to see along the Ozark Trail. Missouri is home to perhaps 25,000 species of insects, and many of these are found in the Ozark Highlands by virtue of the diverse natural communities formed within that great landform. Dung beetles, who despite their unappealing diet perform a great service in clearing the trail of waste from horseback riders. My beloved tiger beetles, flashing brilliant green along wooded trails and on rocky glades. Ambush bugs, paradoxically using the beauty of flowers as cover for their deadly intentions. Endangered dragonflies, infuriating deer flies, and endearing butterflies – these are but a few of the insects that can be seen along the Ozark Trail.
Previous issues of The Trail Builder are also available at the Ozark Trail Association website in the archives.