Spring brings arrival of snakes, flowers

Sunday, March 27, 2011

With recent daytime temperatures reaching into the 70s, spring is certainly here.

And with spring comes the inevitable: beautiful small flowers and snakes.

The speckled king snake is only one of many Southeast Missouri snakes. It is native and nonpoisonous. Many people treasure the presence of speckled king snakes on their property.

This snake will catch and eat other snakes, including poisonous ones such as the copperhead. Being a constrictor it will wrap around and squeeze the life out of its prey before eating it. Other prey of the speckled king snake include mice, rats, lizards, frogs and insects.

The speckled king snake's home territory reaches into parts of all states along the Mississippi River from Iowa south to the Gulf of Mexico.

The little flower in this photo is called the Virginia Spring Beauty although it is native to almost all U.S. states east of the Rocky Mountains. In Southeast Missouri it is common in wooded areas. Each plant will have a couple long slender leaves and will grow to about six inches tall. It is one of the earliest flowers to bloom each spring in Southeast Missouri. I took this photo in Scott County.

Through the Woods is a weekly nature photo column by Aaron Horrell. Find this column at semissourian.com to order a reprint of the photo. Find more work by him at the O'Tenem Gallery.

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