32-P1320805

Sternotherus minor minor

Size:  up to 5.7 inches for females and 4.7 inches for males.

Location/habitat:  throughout panhandle south to Central Florida in springs, rivers, creeks, ponds, lakes and swamps. Abundant in North Florida near springs.  Prefer shallow water near woody debris.

Life cycle/reproduction:  in Florida two mating seasons: March-April and September-November.  Females lay 2-5 clutches annually of about 1-5 eggs in shallow dug nests usually around logs.  Incubation 61-120 days depending on nest temperature; with temperature determining sex of offspring with extreme temperatures at both ranges being female, middle range being male. Hybridization with eastern musk turtle (S. odoratus) has been observed in the wild.

Food:  mainly carnivorous (mollusks, crustaceans, insects, spiders, fishes, annelids, and carrion), but will eat algae and aquatic plants.

Behaviour:  in north Florida more active from March through November; prefer to stay near water; can climb to bask up to 13 feet above water; can stay underwater for longer periods of time with ability to draw oxygen from water.

Conservation:  while it forms a dense population in Florida, laws protect it by prohibiting no more than 2 loggerhead musk turtles in possession.  Popular turtle for the pet trade.

Information from Amphibians and Reptiles of Florida (Kennth L. Krysko, Kevin M. Enge & Paul E. Moler), pp 284-285.

 

 

43-P1320864

Cuscuta  (genus)

The species of this observation in not known.  Of 10 species of Cuscuta reported in Florida, only 1 is not native (C. japonica) and has been vouchered only in Gadsden county.

Dodders are consider obligate holoparasites, that is, they are plants which cannot complete their full life cycle (e.g. repoduce) without a suitable host.

Cuscuta has no chlorophyll and only minimally photosynthetically active. The plant is mainly stems.  A seedling must find a suitable host plant within days to survive.  Upon finding a suitable host plant, the stem attaches itself by discs to the plant.  The plant, in term, in response to other chemical signals sent to it may also responds with proteins to further enhance the sticking capacity.  This usually happens within the first 48 hours of contact.  Cuscuta uses mechanical pressure and biochemical degradation of host cell to walls to penetrate the host plant. Through this interchange which also increases the cuscuta cells in contact with plant twenty-fold, cuscuta draws water, nutrients and carbohydrates from its host.

This is a flowering plant and species distinctions can be made easier by observing its flowers.

 

17-P1320715

P1320719

Scutellaria integrifolia

Forb/herb/perennial

Native to L 48

Most frequently seen Scutellaria  of 13 species found in Florida.  While certain species of Scutellaria have medicinal value, S. integrifolia is mainly decorative.

Florida Native Wildflower Plant Society indicates that it attracts many pollinators.  It is a heavy seeder.

04-P1320638

 

Danaus plexippus

Order:  Lepidoptera

Family: Nymphalidae Brush-foots

Habitat:  Open, sunny locations

Status: Subspecies which live in North American and two North American populations are threatened due to loss of mileweed breeding habitat due to use of herbicides and genetically modified herbicide-resistant cropland and land conversion, loss of habitats at overwintering sites due to logging, climate change and extreme wether.

Host plants: various milkweeds, including Mexican milkweed, white swamp milkweed, sandhill milkweed and white vine.

Reproduction: multiple generations.

Life cycle:  egg (white, laid singly on leaves); larva: white with gransverse black and yellow stripes, pair on long black filaments on each end.

Most of information from Jaret C. Daniels, Butterflies of Florida, pp 218-219.

71-P1320043

30-P1310722

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pomacea paludosa

Native to Florida, also to Cuba and Hispaniola.

Principal food of the Everglades kite.

Habitat: cannot survive low winter temperatures, no further north than northern tier of Florida counties west to the Choctawhatchee River.

Food: complex misture of algae, cynobacteria, heterotrophic microbes, and detritutus attached to surfaces common to the waters in the area.

Life cycle: Mating in March through October.  Females emerge usually at night to lay pink egg masses on tree trunks, pilings, seawalls or plant stems.

If confronted by adverse condition, the Florida apple snails can burrow into sediments, seal the opening of their shell and remain settled this way for several months.

We started seeing Florida apple snail eggs several years ago, but saw the first snail in April of 2019.  The photo is the spatterdock leaf it fell on when another spatterdock leaf was upturned to check for underside “creatures”.

 

 

36-P1310875

Epargyreus clarus

Order:  Lepidoptera

Family: Hesperiidae (skippers)

Habitat:  forest edges, open woodlands, roadsides, utility easements, old fields and gardens

Status:  commonly seen

Host plants: larvael: wisteria, false indigo, kudzu, butterfly pea, beggarweeds

Reproduction: multiple generation

Life cycle: egg (green, singly laid, on underside of leaves); larva (yellow-green with dark bands and reddish brown head).

(Information from Jaret C. Daniels, Butterflies of Florida, p. 137.)

 

 

P1290776

P1290779

Polygala lutea

Forb/herb/biennial

Native: L 48

Blooming: March, orange

Womack Creek Campground

P1290954

 

P1300044

Pseudemys floridana

Range: Most of peninsular and panhandle Florida, southeaster coast plains from southeastern Virginia  and west to Texas.

Habitat:  Prefer still waters such as marshes, wetlands and ponds and slower moving rivers.

Size: Average adult size ranges from 9.1-13 inches to a limit of  15.6 inches.  Males much smaller than females.

Food:  Although omnivorous in other areas, in Florida are almost all herbivores.

Life history: Nesting occurs in northern Florida from late spring to early summer with hatches  from late summer to early fall. Clutches are between 10-23 eggs and may overwinter in northern Florida.

Predators: Alligators and otters

Status: Currently not of concern, but loss of habits could be a source of concern.

P1290913

Pseudemys concinna suwanniensis

Range:  generally Florida, but also north into Georgia via the Suwanee River system

Habitat:  rivers and streams:  alluvial, blackwater and spring-run with lots of aquatic vegetation. In a survey of turtle species by Mays and Hill in 2015,  it is the second most observed species along the Apalachicola, Choctawhatchee and Ochlockonee rivers.

Size: Up to 17 inches

Food:  herbivorous

Life history: active during daylight hours, foraging in early morning, basking during the day.  Can spend long time under water, requiring onlyt seconds to breathe above water. Nesting is in sandy or loam soil within 100 feet of the water from May to June.  Clutches range from 9 to 29 white or pinkish eggs, hatching from August to September and dependent on temperature of the soil.  Predators are alligators and muskrats.

 

Chrysomela interrupta

Host: Alder

North America

 

It has been very difficult to find any descriptive information about this beetle.

Before our visit on March 26, 2019, we saw no obvious infestation of the alder shrubs on the creek.  This year on several plants, the leaves were being eaten by this beetle, both adult and larva.

The photos above are for the adult, the larva and pupa.   This was confirmed by an entomologist specializing in beetles on inaturalist.org.  He notes that it has not been vouchered for Florida, although Bug Guide notes Florida as one of the states in which it has been found.

One other interesting activity on the alders are the presence of what seem to be spider cases encased with single larvae.  These were located at the tip of a branch, including tender immature leaves.   If the pupae is as shown on the lower leaf, that this may be a spider cache.  While some individual cases hold still plump larvae, others show shriveled larvae.  In one case, there is a hole on the end of one larvae, slightly dried.  There was a  very tiny brown spider which was on the leaf, but it fell into the cockpit of the kayak before I could get a photograph.  I am not sure whether it is responsible for these food storage cases.