Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Nothing To See Here Folks!

Amidst a small convoy of Peace River Butterfly Society members, driving along the Tram Grade, far out into the Babcock/Webb Wildlife Management Area.....I thought to myself, "I don't see any good butterfly habitat"...

Just some mesic prairie and pine flatwoods in the distance. Our outing leader, FGCU botanist, Dr Jay Horn, had scouted the area, but "I don't think there is anything to see here!"

The group scoped the area selected by Jay and with some trepidation waded through the mid calf deep swale to see what there was to see...if anything.

First out was Mike, our newest member and an accomplished photographer with his "big dog" Nikon P900.

WOW!  What couldn't be seen from the road was lots of blooming Blazing Star (Liatris spicata) and more than a few nectaring Zebra Swallowtails (Eurytides marcellus).

Look closely, there is lots to see....some butterfly host plants and lots of other interesting flora for botanist Jay to point out.

Here is Quercus minima, a low growing, tiny member of the Oak family!
Quercus minima, the dwarf live oak or minimal oak, is a North American species of shrubs in the beech family. It is native to the southeastern United States. Quercus minima is an evergreen or semi-evergreen shrub rarely more than 2 meters tall, reproducing by seed and also by means of underground rhizomes

Fred at the ready with binos and camera...

A nice Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) also nectaring on Liatris.

Dr Jay pointing out species that would go unnoticed without his knowledge...WOW!

Ph.D., Botany, Duke University, 2005
M.S., Biology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1997
B.S., Plant Biology, Cornell University, 1995
Post-doctoral Fellow, Department of Botany, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, 2009–2015

Flaxleaf False Foxglove (Agalinis linfolia)

Leslie with iNaturalist phone app and Theresa recording butterfly species.

Cluster-leaf St. Johns Wort (Hypericun cistifolium).

Pineland Rayless Goldenrod (Bigelowia nudata).

Carolina Yellow-eyed Grass (Xyris caroliniana).

Here is a list of the butterfly species seen on this outing...

Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus)
Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)
Barred Yellow (Eurema daira)
Little Yellow (Pyristia lisa)
Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus)
Ceraunus Blue (Hemiargus ceraunus)
Little Metalmark (Calephelis virginiensis)
Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae)
Phaon Crescent (Phyciodes phaon)
Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)
White Peacock (Anartia jatrophae)
Georgia Satyr (Neonympha areolatus)
Sachem (Atalopedes campestris)
Twin-spot Skipper (Oligoria maculata)
Whirlabout (Polites vibex)

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) on
Flat-topped Goldenrod (Euthamia graminifolia).

Captain Josh getting close with his Canon super macro lens

Georgia Satyr (Neonympha aeriolatus).
What's a Satyr?

one of a class of lustful, drunken woodland gods. In Greek art they were represented as a man with a horse's ears and tail, but in Roman representations as a man with a goat's ears, tail, legs, and horns.

Grasses!  They all look similar to most of us, but they are most important to lepidoptera they are host plants for many difficult to identify Skippers!  I am hoping Jay will help me to identify this lovely grass!


Whirlabout Skipper (Polites vibex).  One of the many Grass Skippers.

When in doubt, assume a good prone position and zero in on target!
What do you suppose Cpt Josh sees?

Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus)
Good spot Josh!

A bit late in the season, but here is a Black Swallowtail Instar.

Eveyone gathered to see the highlight of the day!
The Money Shot!

Pine Lilly (Lilium catesbaei)

Friday, September 4, 2020




 Plants, most rare and interesting, were the goal of a recent outing at the Babcock Webb Wildlife Management Area in Punta Gorda, FL

Above was indeed the rarest and most interesting to the end of the post to find out what it is!

Liv and I were fortunate to be included in this outing of the Mangrove Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society.  Led by Florida Gulf Coast University Botanist, Jay Horn....we were looking for some native Milkweed....and eager to learn about other species.  Jean Evoy and Jane Wallace, Liv and I were eager students.

Jay chose an area on the Tram Grade where he knew of a recent burn and the likelihood of some Milkweed.

This was a prime example of Mesic Flatwoods....but still wet from our Florida rainy season.   Good time to find some interesting successional growth before the Saw Palmetto takes hold.

    Horn, Jay (PhD)

    Assistant Professor
    Department of Biological Sciences

Thanks so much to our outing leader, Jay Horm who was a most patient teacher.  We saw a lot and learned a lot.  We learned to recognize new plants and more importantly we learned to use "Plant Gestalt;" to use a knowledge of habitat, surroundings, seasonality, shape and form...all keys to becoming a good field botanist...or in my case a field botany enthusiast.
What are the 5 Gestalt principles?
Gestalt psychologists argued that these principles exist because the mind has an innate disposition to perceive patterns in the stimulus based on certain rules. These principles are organized into five categories: ProximitySimilarity, Continuity, Closure, and Connectedness.


Asclepias connivens

Jay teaches Biology and the course below.  I would love to audit his courses!

BOT 3153 - Flora of Southwestern Florida

Principals and practical aspects of the identification, morphology, and ecology of species of vascular plants composing the flora of Southwestern Florida. Included, are field trips (one per class meeting), lectures, and laboratory exercises.

This is the text used in "Florida of Southwestern Florida.and if you want to really get some knowledge I would recommend the edition below...AND FORGET ABOUT COMMON NAMES...GET USED TO SCIENTIFIC BINOMIALS!

Mesic Flatwoods link

Peucetia viridans   

Green Lynx Spider

Milkweed ?? Asclepias pedicellata ?? seed pod
More for next year!

  Calopogon pallidus

Physostegia purpurea

Carphenephorus carnosus

Euphyes arpa

Palmetto Skipper

Drosera capillaris

There are several different types of carnivorous plants native to Florida, including six species of pitcher plants (Sarracenia), five species of sundews (Drosera), fourteen species of bladderworts (Utricularia), and six species of butterwort (Pinguicula).Jul 1

       Great idea to record your sightings on the inaturalist phone app.                        

Strymon melinus

Serendipity...."the fact of finding interesting or valuable things by chance."
Even with a long, wet walk with a modicum of gestalt, the find fo the day.....THE MONEY SHOT...was spotted by Jay as our tired group made our way back to the cars.   "Whoda thunk it?"  One of Florida's rarest terrestrial orchids!

Orthochilus ecristatus
Threatened species statewide with no vouchered specimens in Charlotte County per "Atlas of Florida Plants."

Habenaria quinquesta

Icing on the cake!  In a swale next to our parked car, another beautiful terrestrial orchid....great spot by Olivia...


Join us next time we go afield....lots to see and lots to learn.  And "The Webb" is a wonderland of nature, right in our own SW Florida back yard!