Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Wilson's Snipe

Olivia Scott photo
This Wilson's Snipe (Gallinago delicata) was spotted on the shoreline at Ollie's Pond, a birding hotspot in Port Charlotte, Florida. 
Olivia Scott photo
You don't always see this many waders at Ollie's Pond, but you always see something interesting.  Here's a link from the Peace River Audubon Society about birding hotspots in Charlotte County, Florida.
Take a walk on the wild side and see what you can see!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Oak Toad (Anaxyrus quercicus)

Olivia Scott photo
 The Oak Toad (Anaxyrus quercicus), at only an inch long, is the smallest toad in North America.

creative commons illustration from Wikipedia

With a range on the coastal plains of the Southern United States, this elusive toad prefers scrub, xeric and longleaf pine habitat, with available breeding ponds during the summer rainy season.

Olivia Scott photo
 Oak Toads are diurnal, eat small insects and other arthropods...but prefer ants....hopefully fire ants!
creative commons photo from Wikipedia
Sadly, they are sold as pets.

$10.99, but OUT OF STOCK!

Olivia Scott photo
 Breeding in the summer and hibernating during the cold months, they live two to four years.  Above shows some good camouflage...they are really hard to spot unless they move.
Males are smaller and have a vocal sac on their throat.

Though abundant in undisturbed, preferred habitat, constant human development in the coastal southern US and predation by exotic species from the pet trade are threats.

Since wife Olivia's photos are shown here, and she had the sharp eye to spot these little guys, I'll make this a guest post!  Photos taken at Don Pedro State Park land base.  Placida, Florida.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Hemiargus ceraunus, Ceraunus Blue Butterfly

 The Ceraunus Blue (Hemiargus ceraunus) is a tiny (3/4 inch) member of the family Lycaenidae found in the southern half of North America.
Named in the eighteenth century by Danish zoologist, Johan Christian Fabricus....who specialized in all creatures "insecta," I wonder if this pretty little blue memorializes the seventh century Bishop of Paris, the saint of the same name?  Or perhaps, Keraunus, eldest son of Ptolemy, and king of Macedon.  But, I digress....and here is a likeness of JC Fabricus who gave us so many interesting binomials.
And just in case you, like me, wonder how to pronounce ceraunus,
here's a great link...

 Resting with wings spread makes identification easy, but more often one will just see a flash of flying blue!

 The Florida population of Ceraunus Blues have one submarginal eyespot on their hindwing.  But, you have to get them to hold still and get close enough to see it!!

 Females are more brown on the ventral side and the dorsal wing edges not as deep blue as the males.

 This male shows really distinct blue dorsal wing edges.  These photos were taken at the Land Base of Don Pedro State Park in Placida, Florida...a great place to visit, and a location where you are sure to spot some Mangrove Buckeyes!!

This is Florida's only other small blue butterfly,....the Cassius Blue (Leptotes cassius).  Note the two submarginal eyespots!  So, when you see a small blue in Florida....check out the eyespots...one for a Ceraunus and two for a Cassius.
Cassius, as we all know, was the Roman Senator who was the chief instigator of the plot to assassinate Julius Caesar.  How cassius came to be part of this binomial I do not know....but credit goes to Pieter Cramer, Dutch entomologist, and the first to write a book using Carl Linnaeus' naming system and containing many fine scientific illustrations.
Always lots to see in "natural" Florida and lots to learn about our flora and fauna.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Red-waisted Florella Moth: Syngamia florella

 Syngamia florella, the Red-waisted Florella Moth largely goes unnoticed here in SW Florida, as it is only 1.5cm wingtip to wingtip, hides in foliage and is given to fast, short flights.

 Here on Bidens alba, Spanish Needle or Hairy Beggar's Tick....our ubiquitous weed and terrific butterfly nectar plant!

I would have missed this one, but I was searching for Sweat Bees, having seen an iridescent green one recently.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Condylostylus mundus: Garden Gem

This tiny (4mm) metallic blue fly, Condylostylus mundus, is a member of  the 1,275 species family Dolichopodidae and is a valuable predator in any garden.  They eat great quantities of mites and aphids.  This one, blue, is a male....the females are metallic green.

I believe this to be a female....but the genus Condylostylus has 40 species in North America, so I could be mistaken.
The wings are hyaline and without pattern and the legs are all black.  They have a domestic range from Florida north to North Carolina and are also found in the West Indies and Brazil.