Friday, December 6, 2013

Sarasota "Bug Walk!"

Sarasota County (Florida) hosted a guided insect identification walk at the Curry Creek Preserve in Venice, FL.  A small group of entomology enthusiasts followed host, Dr Fred Santana Phd along the trails of the 80 acres of pine flatwoods and oak hammocks.







Retired entomologist, Dr Fred volunteers his time and expertise so that others can learn and enjoy the insect diversity in SW Florida.


The first thing Fred pointed out were some Sweat Bees, members of the Halicitdae family.  Great pollinators, but also can be a nuisance as they seem to be attracted to human perspiration and the females can give a mild sting.
These bees nest in the ground and are mentioned in E.O. Wilson's book, "The Social Conquest of Earth" as exhibiting behavior leading to eusociality in insects.  Great read!









Before even leaving the parking area, Dr Fred discovered a friendly annual Cicada on his shoulder!  The Florida varieties don't bite, don't sting, don't do crop damage....but they do make a racket (males) with their tymbals, which are drum like organs on the sides of their abdominal segments.  




Sharp eyed retired biology professor, Dr Bill Dunson, along with the group, found a Tersa Sphynx moth(Xylophanes tersa) instar!  WOW!  It looks like a snake with fake eyes!  You've already seen it on the lead photo. 

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An interesting conversation about biomimicry ensued between Dr's Fred and Bill!  Lots to learn on these outings.



Dr Fred recommended Kaufman's Field Guide for everyone, neophyte to expert. 

If you like this Field Guide, you will love Eric Eaton's blog



A strikingly iridescent Long Legged Fly was collected.  It got away quickly, so this photo is from my backyard.




Members of the large family, Dolichopodidae, these handsome and tiny true flies are great to have in a garden as they are predaceous on soft bodied invertebrates like mites!



In the collection tube is a Ceraunus Blue (Hemiargus ceraunus), a fast moving and small member of the Licaenidae family.






The dorsal wings show the beautiful blue of the Ceraunus.  This is also a photo I took earlier....as our specimen was quickly released to prevent injury.
With over 5000 species worldwide, Lycaenidae is the second largest family of butterflies.




In the container is a Hover Fly (Syrphid spp) which is a great thing to have in your garden...as they love to eat aphids!


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Another example of nature's biomimicry, as these harmless flies sure to look like bees!

What a great outing.....we also saw more butterflies, dragonflies, damselflies, spiders, ants, honey bees, paper wasps.  Thanks to Sarasota County and Dr Santana for hosting this event....and I'll be sure to get back out to the Curry Creek Preserve for some more exploring on my own.


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