It’s the most wonderful time of the year

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

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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:

https://cornerofthecabinet.com/2014/08/26/invertebrate-of-the-week-8-golden-tortoise-beetle-charidotella-sexpunctata/

http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/veg/potato/golden_tortoise_beetle.htm


 

 

 

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.


Links:

https://flawildflowers.org/flower-friday-clematis-baldwinii/

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.

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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!


Links:

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

https://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species/Zerene-cesonia

Spiderlings by the hundreds

 

A short photo hike at Big Pine Tract with an incredible find.

Green Lynx Spiderlings

Each egg sac contains hundreds of spiderlings and well defended by their mother.

Green Lynx Spider Babies
Green Lynx Spiderlings ( Spiderlings go through up to 8 instar stages)| Alice Mary Herden | November 18

Mating season in July, eggs are laid in September, hatching and dispersal between November and early January, and growth from January to June.

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Green Lynx Spider (Female) guards her nest and will spit venom at any predators 

After going through their instar stages (life stages| molting egg, postembryo..etc), these spiderlings have a long way to go for such a short amount of life, just one year. 

 


Links:

http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/beneficial/green_lynx_spider.htmhttps://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston/beneficials/beneficial-48_green_lynx_spider.htm

Click to access arac_28_02_0185.pdf

Click to access JoA_v6_p147.pdf

American Lady

What a beautiful little butterfly, with a speculator underwing design.

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American Lady | Alice Mary Herden | October 23

Called many names; American Painted Lady, Painted Beauty, this butterfly’s larvae creates nests atop their host plants. (See link below)

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Sweet Everlasting (Rabbit Tobacco)| Host Plant for the American Lady | October 23 

At the Big Pine Tract, part of Chinsegut Wildlife and Environmental Area, I was able to count at least five on one trail… and that was just enough for me to capture some photos.


Links:

http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/bfly/american_lady.htm

 

Ornate Bella Moth

After the Butterfly Count at Chinsegut Conservation Center, a friend Linda Morehouse, who is also an FWC Volunteer as well, and I decided to take a short hike over at the Big Pine Tract. Big Pine Tract

Chinsegut Wildlife and Environmental Area has three hiking areas; Nature Center Trail, Pines to Prairie Trail (Corner of 41 and Snow Memorial HWY), Big Pine Tract as well as managing Perry Oldenburg and Janet Butterfield. Janet Butterfield is closed to the public, however they do have closed hiking days available, see http://myfwc.com/chinsegut for scheduled next hike)

The Ornate Bella Moth..

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Ornate Bella Moth with wings opened | August 25

What a beautiful moth! The colors orange and pink with black spots just features an extraordinary design against its white body!

Bella Moth
Ornate Bella Moth side profile | August 25

The life cycle of the ornate Bella Moth is short.. only three weeks. The host plant for the Bella Moth is the Lanceleaf Rattlebox, which is toxic to human and livestock (Important information: http://nwdistrict.ifas.ufl.edu/phag/2012/10/05/weed-alert-lanceleaf-rattlebox/)

Photographing these moths with their wings open is difficult, patience and putting your drive mode on continuous is the best way to go.


Links

http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/beneficial/leps/bella_moth.htm

https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/science/bella-moth/

http://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/entnemdept/2018/04/05/bug-day-bella-moth/