Pin-striped Vermilion Slug

Pin-striped Vermilion Slug… a very interesting name. When I first noticed this little thing crawling on the thorned stem it reminded me of a watermelon! This slug is about an inch long (I really need to start bringing my ruler with me) and has patches of stingy hairs on its back, only on the orange stripe, to protect itself from getting nabbed by any predators.

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Pin-striped Vermilion Slug Moth | December 2019 | Alice Mary Herden

This is the larvae stage, slug caterpillar, of the Pin-stripe Vermilion Moth.


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Pin-striped Vermilion Slug Moth | December 2019 | Alice Mary Herden



This is one of the cutest creatures I have encountered while out exploring and photographing nature. I do love the orange and green since that’s the color theme I selected for the magazine! Again, for me, nature always gives me the answers I seek.


Slug Moths – A Tale in Two Parts


Eastern Silver Aster

I first saw this flower it was in the Withlacoochee State Forest working on an article about wildflowers. I didn’t take much notice then until I saw it at Big Pine. After taking a few macro shots of this flower it opened a whole new mystery!

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Eastern Silver Aster | December 2019 | Alice Mary Herden

I am fascinated by this flower, there is so much going on, such an interesting design. The tulip cupped that opens to have the anther expand, it’s amazing!

Eastern Silver Aster | December 2019 | Alice Mary Herden

It was a little windy while I was taking photos, so it was hard to get a good macro shot. I would love to have a digital microscope to explore this flower in depth.

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Eastern Silver Aster | December 2019 | Alice Mary Herden
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Eastern Silver Aster | December 2019 | Alice Mary Herden


Click to access Symphyotrichum_concolor.pdf

Glade Lobelia

Scattered throughout the front section of Big Pine in Brooksville, the Glade Lobelia is a welcoming speck of color throughout the area.


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Glade Lobelia | December 2019 | Alice Mary Herden


The first collection of this plant was on October 16, 1965, in Hernando Beach.

The Glade Lobelia grows in wet areas, however, the habitat where I took these pictures was more upland pine. Which makes me curious as to why their stalk is so thick, maybe to retain water? This is just a guess. Maybe some more digging I can find out that answer.


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Glade Lobelia | December 2019 | Alice Mary Herden


One thing about the Glade Lobelia is there are always these white specks on the petals, could be pollen but I am not 100% sure. If I do find out I will update this post.


It’s the most wonderful time of the year

Spring is in the air and the insects are out and about!

Golden Tortoise Beetle | Alice Mary Herden | April 8

Check out this lovely couple… sharing some quality time together. They have an amazing metallic golden/copper color that glistens in the sunlight. Super small, not even a half an inch.

It would be very interesting to photograph or even better to video them while when they transform into their defensive colors, red with black spots.

Learn more:




Pine Hyacinth

If you ever wanted to feel like you are in a fairy-tale-like forest, this is the flower to be around.

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Pine Hyacinth | March 30 | Alice Mary Herden

This is my top favorite native wildflower, just being around them make you feel like you are in this fairy-like wonderland. The way the petals curl and fray, they are just beautiful. The pink/lilac burst in color during their blooming stage and as they soak in more of the sun their colors blend to a soft pastel and then to white. This flower has an amazing transformation.

Pine Hyacinth | March 28 | Alice Mary Herden
Pine Hyacinth | March 28 | Alice Mary Herden

I have seen a few at Big Pine, but never as many as I saw yesterday. After a prescribed burn, around 4-6 months ago (time flies) these wildflowers just popped up out of nowhere.

Pine Hyacinth | March 28 | Alice Mary Herden
Pine Hyacinth | March 28 | Alice Mary Herden

That particular area FWC biologists, Matt Koenig, and Cliff Barga conducted a prescribed burn is filling up with Pine Hyacinth, and now is the best opportunity to photograph them. 

There is another species of these flowers, called a Netleaf Leather-Flower. The leather flower has the same flower shape but is a vine.

Big Pine Tract is part of the Chinsegut Wildlife and Environmental Area.  The entrance is off of Old Crystal River Road in Brooksville. Be sure to sign in!

According to the Plant Atlas, the first documented species was in Hernando County in 1958 by George. R. Cooley, in the Chinsegut Hill area.


Click to access clematis_baldwinii_pine-hyacinth_3_0.pdf


Southern Dogface Sulpher

The Southern Dogface Sulpher is easy to ID.. The black spot on its wing as well as the pink color. Its such a unquie butterfly in the sulpher family.

Southern Dogface Sulpher | Alice Mary Herden | Big Pine Tract {12/03/18}

They can be seen all year around… and oh my goodness, I didn’t see that grasshopper to the right of the butterfly.

Sometimes, actually more times then I would want to admit, when you are so focused photographing one subject you tend to forget to look around. It is super cool to find these suprises!


Click to access Southern-Dogface-3D-card.pdf