Archives for category: March

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Romalea microptera (Romalea guttata)

Size: adult female 50-70mm (2-2.8″), males 43-55mm (1.7-2.2″)

Location: Southeastern US, broad range in low, wet areas in pastures and woods and along ditches.  In north Florida from about March to November.

Food:  broad variety, but prefers broad-leafed plants.  Polyphagous — eats small amounts of a large variety of plants.  In Florida can create problems in citrus groves, vegetable plots and landscape ornamentals.

Life cycle:  One generation per year, with eggs over wintering (this stage can be as long as 8 months), egg laying begins about one month after reaching adult hood, usually the summer months.  Eggs are deposited in soil located in drier areas although adults prefer damp or wet habitats.

Predators:  tachinid fly (Anisia serotina).   Most birds and lizards avoid these insects, except loggerheard shrikes (Lanius ludovicianus) will capture them, impale and cache the grasshoppers on barbed wire and return when the toxins have degraded.

Generally the adult is dull yellow color, but in North Florida adults remain black.

The common name describes the walking and crawling behaviour of the grasshopper.  “Lubber” is from an old English word meaning lazy or clumsy.  Novice seamen were called “landlubbers”.

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Lyssomanes viridis

Size:  females 7-8-mm (2.8-3.1 inch), males 6-8mm (2,4-3.1 inch)

Range:  throughout Florida, from spring to early autumn

Habitat:  woodlands, on broad leaf evergreens (e.g. magnolias, bays) and live oak.

Food:  aphids, mites, ants, other plant insects and other jumping spiders

The photo above seems to be that of a female.

P1020571P1020565P1020574Mitchella repens

Forb/Herb, Perennial

Native, L48, C

A small ground cover partridgeberry flowers always comes in pairs, sharing a single calyx.  Each flower in a pair differ:  one has a longer pistil and a shorter stamen, the other a shorter pistil and a longer stamen to prevent self-fertilization.  The berries which are red when mature require that both flowers in a pair must be fertilized.

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Bidens mitis

Forb/herb, annual

Native, L 48

Flower color: yellow

Blooming: February, March

The tick in the common name refers to black seeds in a round ball which have a barb at the end.   This enables the plant to spread by sticking on to feathers, fur or clothes.

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Carex atlantica ssp capillacea

Monocot

Perennial; Native to L 48 & Canada

Height:  18 inches at maturity; maximum height about 20 inches

Blooming:   March

Reproduction:  Seeds in early summer

pH tolerance:  4.5 – 6

Location:  N 30 00.417 W 084 33.838 (2.3 RR)

Salinity tolerance:  low

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Salvia Lyrata

Forb/herb, perennial

Native: L 48

Blooming:  March, April, blue

Pollinated and visited by bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.  Seeds eaten by gold finches.

Called cancer weed because of its medicinal use by Native Americans and early settlers.   Use for treatment of asthma, colds, coughs, colds, diarrhoea and constipation.  Fresh leaves applied to warts and an ointment made from leaves and seeds for wounds and sores.

Location:  Nick’s Road primitive campsite.

 

 

 

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Family:  Tetragnathidae

Spiders have 8 legs, 2 body parts and no antennae.

Longjawed spiders are called because their fangs (chelicerae) are as long or longer than their cephalathorax.  All Tetragnathidae have 8 eyes.  They are called orb weavers because they build a web which has a circular grid, although the spokes (radii) are not as many and the webs look a bit disorganized compared to regular orb weavers.

The spiders hatch from eggs in the spring and look like small adults, molting as they grow.  They live for about 1 year, mating and laying eggs at the end of summer.

The genus Tetragnatha are often found near or over water, as the spider above was.

They do bite, but are not considered dangerous.

 

 

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Ardea Alba

Family: Ardeidae

We saw a colony of 8 great egrets on March 13, 2014.   This is the first time we have seen a colony of these birds on the creek.  They can be found singly or in colonies as this group we saw.

Size:  38-40 inches long, wingspan 52-57 inchesweight 35.3 oz avg.  (Smaller than a great blue heron, larger than a snowy egret)

Color:  white feathers, black legs and claws, pointed yellow bill.

Habitat: freshwater, brackish and marine  wetlands; year round residents of Florida.

Food:   Carnivorous — small fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, small mammals and invertebrates such as crayfish, prawns, shrimp, polychaete worms, isopods, dragonflies and damsel flies, whirligig beetles, giant water bugs and grasshoppers.

Reproduction: Monogomous pair during breeding season, but not known whether this continues after breeding season.  Early in breeding season they grown long plumes on their backs which are raised in courtship displays, males being the more ostentatious.

Nesting:  Male builds a nest platform with long sticks and twigs before pairing up with a female, then both complete building the nest, though often, the male completes the nestbuilding himself.  It is usually 3 feet across and  1 foot deep and lined with plant material, about 100 feet off the ground or near the top of a tree.  Sometimes they nest on the ground.

Eggs:   1-6, smooth, pale greenish blue, 2.2-2.4 inches x 1.6-1.7 inches, 23-27 days of incubation, 1-2 broods, hatchlings have long white down.

Additional information:

More than 95% of these birds were killed to supply the millinery trade in the late 19th and early 20th century.   Plume hunting was banned around 1910 and the population has recovered, except that contamination from runoff from fields or sewage fields continue to be threats.  The population seems to be currently stable.

The near extinction of the birds led to a conservation movement.  Audubon was founded to protect birds from being killed for their feathers and the Great White Egret is the symbol of the National Audubon Society.

These birds are frequently found with other wading birds such as herons and ibises.

(Source:  Cornell Lab of Ornithology)

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Ardea herodias

Family:  Ardeidae

Great blue herons can be seen throughout Tate’s Hell, in the rivers, creeks and ditches along the roads that crisscross the forest.   These are large, elegant birds with blue-gray backs, black sides and gray and white striped bellies.  The heron’s has a white face, cap and black crest on its head.  The juvenile is duller color and without a crest.  White and intermediate phases occur in Florida.  Great Blues are easily recognized in flight by 6-foot wind span and neck folded into an “S”.

Great blues can be found anywhere in the continental US and southern portions of Canada.   Though they are migratory birds, they can be seen in Florida throughout the year.  Their preferred habitats include lakes, ponds, rivers and marshes.  They lay two to seven pale blue or blue green eggs on a shallow platform of sticks lined with finer material, usually in a tree, but sometimes on the ground or concealed in a reed bed.  They often nest in colonies.  The eggs incubate from 25 to 30 days and both adults share in the sitting.  The average life span is 15 years.

They are carnivorous and eat fish, frogs, salamanders, lizards, snakes, shrimps, crabs, crayfish, dragonflies, grasshoppers and other aquatic insects.  They forage while wading, of belly deep, impaling prey with their sharp bills.  They are active day and night.

The great blue heron in Womack Creek is particularly skittish and therefore we have not been able to get closer to the bird, unlike other places where it is fairly easy to get close enough to great blues while paddling.  All photographs on this blog are all taken on Womack Creek so until we are able to get closer to the bird(s), this photo will have to suffice.

Most of the information is from iBird PRO, a great I-touch application for bird ID.

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February 9, 2014

Tillandsia bartramii

Monocot/Bromeliaceae

Fort-herb/Perennial

Native:  Lower 48, Puerto Rico

Blooming:  March, April, pink, purple

Location:  RR N 30 00 150′ W 84 32 972′

Epiphytes (air plants)  grow on other plants, such as trees, but they do not parasitize the host plant, using it mainly for support.   The root structure is very efficient in absorbing water and nutrients which come in contact with them, especially from rain.  There are sufficient dissolved nutrients in rain, as low as these might be.  They do not tolerate fertilization.

All Tillandsias are flowering.  Bartram’s airplant has pink flowering stalks and purple “petals”.  Seeds are equipped with “wings” which enable them to air-float to another tree to begin new life.

While they are prolific on trees on southern tributaries of the Apalachicola River, this is the first sighting of Bartram’s airplant on this creek.