Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Sharp eyes for the Little Guys & Lepidopterist Linkup!

 Little Metalmark (Calephelis virginiensis).  Tiny butterfly at only 1/2 inch, and the only representative of the family Riodinidae in Florida.

Spring is time for the Peace River Butterfly Society and Sarasota County Butterfly Club to get together for some time in the field.  Here are some photos of trips the Scherer Thaxton Preserve and Myakka State Forest.   Lots of little species on the edges as expected in early spring.

A 287-acre property next to Oscar Scherer State Park  named Scherer Thaxton Preserve, honoring environmentalist and former county commissioner Jon Thaxton, who started a campaign to have the state buy and protect additional Florida scrub-jay habitat around the park.

Jon Thaxton

 Fast little guys...hard to spot in the thick grass.

Easy going for the group along the trail around the catch basin pond.

 Can you see this one in the grass.  Taken at 50mm which is what the naked eye would see.

 Aha!  There's a better idea.

                                 Best Butterfly Binos

 This is what inexpensive binoculars will do.

 "One spot for one S" = Ceraunus Blue.  "Two spots for two S's = Cassius Blue!

Lot of little guys on this outing and just at the end of the trail was a very cooperative Zebra Swallowtail!  

Now off on the second joint outing to Myakka State Forest with the hope of lots of blooming thistle.

A SW Florida gem amidst encroaching development.

 We walked into a surprising bloom of Phaon Crescents  (Phycoides phaon).

Difficult to spot these little guys unless to move!

 Ventral view.

 Not a lot of nectar plants blooming so early in spring, but one can always find some Bidens!

 Hesperidae mysteriosa  is how I generally identify Skippers!  Fast flying, small and confusing in appearance.  Here is a link to all of these little guys!

Lots of beautiful Butterflies here in SW Florida...big and small, obvious and hard to identify!  Get out there and see some.

OK!  Here is the "money shot" of our outings.  A Little Metalmark resting on a Ladies' Tresses ground orchid.  You can't beat that.

Nothing like a picnic lunch after a morning in the field.  Come and join us next time.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Florida Chicken Turtle?

  Chicken Turtle?  Yes, and not one, but three species of Chicken Turtles!
Above is a Florida Chicken Turtle
(Deirochelys reticularia chrysea)
The other two species are:
Eastern Chicken Turtle 
(Deirochelys reticularia reticularia
Western Chicken Turtle
(Deirochelys reticularia miarai)

On a "butterfly walk" at the Babcock/Webb WMA in Punta Gorda, Florida.  This Florida Chicken Turtle was quickly identified by Dr Bill, Phd turtle expert.  Above Rachel, Jane and Bill move in for a good photo.

The Florida Chicken Turtle is a medium sized, fresh water, basking turtle.  It's name?  Some say due to it's long neck, other say it was a popular dish for early settlers and did indeed taste like chicken.
Sadly they are sold in the exotic pet trade and specimens have been found as far away as Hawaii!

Wonderful image from the Florida Museum of Natural History.
Chicken Turtles are mid-sized turtles with shells that are egg-shaped. These reptiles can get 6-9 inches long. Scute pattern on the carapace is 12/12 marginals, 4/4 vertebral and 5 vertebrae. The plastron is hingeless and is 88-91 % of the carapace length. It is yellow and may have a faded dark blotch on the posterior half. The skin is black with distinctive thin yellow stripes on the back legs and neck. The front of each foreleg has a broad yellow stripe. Furthermore, the neck when extended may be as long as the carapace.

Here is the zoologist who name the Chicken Turtle, the binomial name that is!  LaTreille was a prolific naturalist and named many more species and is celebrated as "The Father of Entomology."

Found the following passage in the above tome...
"...le long cou a le gout du poulet."

And which wine should I choose to go with a bowl of 
turtle stew?

Why one with an appropriate label, of course!
Yes, we also saw lots of butterflies.
bon appetite!

Monday, September 17, 2018

Arcadian Honey Hole

Late summer day visit to "secret spot" of friends Jean and Bill.  They said we would find some butterflies....and WOW, did we ever.  It was a HONEY HOLE!

                                                                     Zebra Swallowtail

                                                                       Visit Arcadia
This is the only hint I will give on it's location.


Here is what attracted so many butterflies....a stand of over 100 Chapman's Blazing Star (Liatris chapmanii) growing in a very scrubby opening in the woods near a farm lane.  

Jump to

Liatris chapmanii
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Liatris
Species: L. chapmanii
Binomial name
Liatris chapmanii
Torrey &

What a rare opportunity to see...in a scrubby open area off of a farm road in very rural Arcadia.  We could not believe all the butterflies nectaring there.  There were dozens of Zebra and Pipevine Swallowtails.

Where there are butterflies one can expect to also see Damsels and Dragons!  Above is a Black Dancer (I think) (Argia fumipennis atra).
And below an Eastern Amberwing (Perithemis tenera).

Thanks Jean and Bill for sharing this secret Honey Hole....we really enjoyed it!!!