CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Giant Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio cresphontes)

Drying wings early in the morning.

Florida Native Larval Hosts: wild lime (Zanthoxylum fagara), Hercules club (Zanthoxylum clava-herculis), hop tree (Ptelea trifoliata)

Non-native host: various cultivated and ornamental citrus (Citrus spp.)

Shown on Florida Native Plant: SOUTHERN BAYBERRY; WAX MYRTLE (Myrica cerifera)

Learn: http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/wildflower/completebutterflydata.asp?id=8

Larval host: in my yard is WILD LIME; LIME PRICKLYASH (Zanthoxylum fagara) and non-native Meyer Lemon (Citrus sp.) although since I planted the native species they don’t tend to use the citrus much.

My take: http://osceolaflgardenblahblahblog.blogspot.com/2011/02/awakening-giant-swallowtail.html

egg: https://centralfloridacritteroftheday.wordpress.com/2016/06/18/giant-swallowtail-butterfly-papilio-cresphontes-egg/

caterpillar: https://centralfloridacritteroftheday.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/giant-swallowtail-butterfly-caterpillar-papilio-cresphontes-4/

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CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY:  Common Oblique Syrphid Fly (Allograpta obliqua)

Also commonly called hover fly or flower fly.  Adults pollinate

larvae are important predators, feeding primarily on aphids. “When larval populations are high they may reduce aphid populations by 70 to 100%”

Learn: http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/beneficial/hover_fly.htm

In turn the larvae is a food source for several species of wasps.

How to distinguish species: https://bugguide.net/node/view/289

Shown on Florida Native Plant: GROUNDSEL TREE; SEA MYRTLE (Baccharis halimifolia)

Common Oblique Syrphid (Allograpta obliqua)

My take: Don’t Swat that Fly
http://web.archive.org/web/20121024114809/http://www.beautifulwildlifegarden.com/dont-swat-that-fly.html

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CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Great Pondhawk Dragonfly (Erythemis vesiculosa)

Great Pondhawk (Erythemis vesiculosa)

New to my buggy lifelist. Dragonflies are predatory in both adult and larval stages. Leave some taller, dry plant debris from your Florida native plants as perches. This species tends to fly low to the ground.

Diet: insects, aquatic larvae such as mosquitoes

Learn: http://www.odonatacentral.org/index.php/FieldGuideAction.get/id/46983

Adult Key to the Odonate Families of Florida: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in632

Shown on Florida native plant: PILLPOD SANDMAT (Euphorbia hirta)

My take:

http://floridawildlifegardentails.wordpress.com/2016/06/21/a-dozen-dragonflies/

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CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Salt Marsh Moth Caterpillar (Estigmene acrea)

Native hosts include Dogfennel, Pillpod Sandmat and other potentially aggressive species.

Serves as a host for other species such as tachinid flies and Hymenopterans (Bees, Wasps and Sawflies) which parasitized the eggs/larvae.

Larvae feed on a variety of plants including “cash crops”, so not a favorite with farmers.

Coloring can be highly variable: http://mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu/species.php?hodges=8131

Learn: http://bugguide.net/node/view/3242

Learn more: http://entomology.ifas.ufl.edu/creatures/veg/leaf/saltmarsh_caterpillar.htm

Shown on Florida Native Plant: PILLPOD SANDMAT (Euphorbia hirta)

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CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Great Egret (Ardea alba)

walking between the Florida native White Waterlilies in my pond.

diet: “eats mainly small fish but also eats amphibians, reptiles, birds, small mammals and invertebrates such as crayfish, prawns, shrimp, polychaete worms, isopods, dragonflies and damselflies, whirligig beetles, giant water bugs, and grasshoppers”

Learn: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Great_Egret/id

Learn more: http://www.sms.si.edu/irlspec/Ardea_alba.htm

My take: Big Winter Birds
http://floridawildlifegardentails.wordpress.com/2016/11/15/big-winter-birds/

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CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Darkling Beetle (Bothrotes canaliculatus acutus)

new to my buggy life list.  Darkling Beetles, as scavengers, are usually found in dark locations such as under debris, logs or stones.  This guy must have been “slumming”. They are members of the Tenebrionidae Family.

I arrived at the subspecies given the metallic luster based on this key: http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/teneb/subfamily_Pimeliinae.pdf

Learn: https://bugguide.net/node/view/12408

Checklist of Eastern US Tenebrionidae: http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/teneb/east_pimeliiformes.htm

Shown on Florida Native Plant: SHYLEAF (Aeschynomene americana) 

A study indicated the genus may feed on moth larvae:

“Species found preying on Mocis larvae were a Tenebrionid, Bothrotes fortis…”
http://www.cabdirect.org/cabdirect/abstract/19750531212

Bothrotes canaliculatus acutus

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CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Saltbush Seed Bug (Ochrimnus mimulus)

New to my buggy life list.  A true bug in the Seed Bugs (Lygaeidae) family, it is a “univoltine seed predator occurring on Baccharis sp. and other Asteraceae (Gould & Sweet 2000)”

Learn:  https://bugguide.net/node/view/254054

Shown on Florida Native Plant GROUNDSEL TREE; SEA MYRTLE (Baccharis halimifolia), a.k.a. Saltbush the preferred larval host.

also reared on solidago and horseweed in a controlled study. source:
http://biostor.org/reference/56136/page/1

“The seed feeding habit of the insect, its oviposition behavior and egg shape appear specifically adapted for Baccharis dwelling.” source: http://oaktrust.library.tamu.edu/handle/1969.1/ETD-TAMU-1994-THESIS-G696

Ochrimnus mimulus

Select resources:

Gould, Georgianna Grimshaw (1994). The biology and ecology of Ochrimnus mimulus (Stal, 1874): an assessment of its coevolution with Baccharis in Brazos County, Texas. Master’s thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from http: / /hdl .handle .net /1969 .1 /ETD -TAMU -1994 -THESIS -G696.

Bugguide.net

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