CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Band-winged Dragonlet Dragonfly (Erythrodiplax umbrata)

Male

Learn:  https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/49254239/49255913#habitat-ecology

Learn more: https://bugguide.net/node/view/3483

Landed on a dried brush pile

My take on dragonflies: https://floridawildlifegardentails.wordpress.com/2016/06/21/a-dozen-dragonflies/

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CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Bagworm Moth Caterpillar likely Abbot’s Bagworm Moth (Oiketicus abbotii)

bagworms are merely moth caterpillars dress in twigs or other plant materials.

Learn: http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/Creatures/MISC/MOTHS/bagworm.htm

Shown on Florida Native Plant: Bidens alba

My take: https://floridawildlifegardentails.wordpress.com/2019/03/07/its-in-the-bagin-the-garden/

Take 2: https://floridawildlifegardentails.wordpress.com/2015/08/15/barbecued-bagworm-moths/

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CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY:  Twilight Darner Dragonfly (Gynacantha nervosa)

New to my buggy lifelist.  As the name indicates, this is one of the  dragonflies not often seen since it flies at dusk and dawn.  I was lucky because it came to rest on the patio overhead.

Family Aeshnidae – Darners

Gynacantha nervosa is found in wooded swamps and low-lying woodland, even in garden pools; there is no minimal size for larval habitat.”

Read more: Learn: http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/165013/0

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

My take:

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

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CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Scentless Plant Bug (Harmostes serratus)

Order Hemiptera – True Bugs, Cicadas, Hoppers, Aphids and Allies
Suborder Heteroptera – True Bugs
Infraorder Pentatomomorpha
Superfamily Coreoidea – Leatherbugs
Family Rhopalidae – Scentless Plant Bugs
Subfamily Rhopalinae
Tribe Harmostini

The Rhopalidae Family eats seeds of herbaceous plants, but some are arborea

Learn: http://bugguide.net/node/view/665725

Key:  http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/choate/rhopalidae.pdf

Shown on Florida Native Plant: Bidens alba

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CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Southern Red-legged Grasshopper (Melanoplus sp. likely propinquus)

Taxonomic status is listed as “valid” at ITIS. https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=658486#null

Bugguide treats this as a synonym of Red-legged Grasshopper (M. femurrubrum) https://bugguide.net/node/view/151116

Order Orthoptera (Grasshoppers, Crickets, Katydids)
Suborder Caelifera (Grasshoppers)
Family Acrididae (Short-horned Grasshoppers)
Subfamily Melanoplinae (Spur-throated Grasshoppers)
Tribe Melanoplini

DONT THINK PEST, THINK BIRD FOOD! Nymphs of grasshoppers are an important food source for birds especially fledglings who cannot eat seed.

If you maintain a balanced garden and don’t use pesticides which can kill the beneficial insects, damage should be minimal to ornamentals.

Tachinid flies (Tachinidae family) are parasites of grasshoppers

Predators: Birds, lizards,mantids, spiders, and rodents eat grasshoppers. (source: http://web.archive.org/web/20150920015140/http://insected.arizona.edu:80/ghopperinfo.htm)

Positive Impact on the Ecosystem:
As herbivores, grasshoppers link plants to the rest of the ecosystem. Frass (droppings) contribute to nutrient turnover by returning nutrients as fertilizer for the plants. They provide food for birds and other arthropods. (ibid.)

Learn more about grasshoppers in Florida: https://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00066916/00001

Shown on Florida Native Plant: Bidens alba

My take nature’s control of grasshoppers via fungus:  https://floridawildlifegardentails.wordpress.com/2018/12/07/night-of-the-living-dead/

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CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Black-and-Yellow Argiope Spider (Argiope aurantia) [juvenile]

Also called writing spiders, banana spiders

The stabilimentum of adults is in a zig zag pattern. Juveniles stay within a circular “bullseye” stabilimentum and seem almost invisible until they acquire their coloring as they age.

These spiders are pest control machines. I’ve seen them eating grasshoppers on numerous occasions, some much larger than themselves. They also are my favorites because they capture May Beetles before they can fly into the house at night when the door opens.

Learn: http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston/beneficials/beneficial-24_spider_blackandyellow_argiope.htm

Shown on Florida Native Plant: Bidens alba

My take: https://floridawildlifegardentails.wordpress.com/2020/07/16/along-came-a-spider/

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CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Crab Spider (Mecaphesa sp.)

These spiders ambush prey as opposed to using a web to capture. Sometimes referred to as flower spiders. Wide variety of colors which often will match the color of the flower they are hiding on.

May ambush some bees, but overall considered beneficial as they are biocontrol for some pest species and food for those up the food chain.

Learn: http://www.uky.edu/Ag/CritterFiles/casefile/spiders/crab/crab.htm

several in the crab spider family are very similar. You can distinguish them by the eye configurations.
Learn: http://bugguide.net/node/view/38099

Shown on Florida Native Plant: PAINTEDLEAF; FIRE-ON-THE-MOUNTAIN (Poinsettia cyathophora)

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CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly (Eurytides marcellus)

The only regularly-occurring Kite Swallowtail in North America.

Larval host: Pawpaw (Asimina spp.)

Learn: https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/wildflowers/butterfly/zebra-swallowtail/

Caterpillar: https://centralfloridacritteroftheday.wordpress.com/2013/04/23/zebra-swallowtail-butterfly-caterpillar-eurytides-marcellus/

Shown on Florida Native Plant: Bidens alba

Learn more: http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/bfly/zebra_swallowtail.htm

My take:
Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly: What Pizzazz
http://floridawildlifegardentails.wordpress.com/2016/09/07/zebra-swallowtail-butterfly-what-pizzazz/

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CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Versute Sharpshooter (Graphocephala sp. likely versuta)

New to my buggy life list. 

Superfamily Membracoidea – Leafhoppers, Treehoppers and Aetalionids
Family Cicadellidae – Leafhoppers
Subfamily Cicadellinae – Sharpshooters
Tribe Cicadellini

So small, I wasn’t sure what I was looking at on the plant. When I brought it up on the computer screen it looked quite similar to a Candystriped Leafhopper (G. coccinea) but it was so tiny that I investigated further and am pretty sure it is G. versuta).

May be considered a pest.

Learn more: https://www.projectnoah.org/spottings/584297056
https://bugguide.net/node/view/10022

Shown on Florida Native Plant: Bidens alba

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CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Tropical Orb Weaver Spider (Eriophora ravilla) juvenile male

This youngster was hiding in some webbing it used to create a shelter in the leaves. The bright green coloring is an attribute of juveniles.

Learn: http://entomology.ifas.ufl.edu/creatures/misc/spiders/tropical_orb_weaver.htm

Learn more: https://bugguide.net/node/view/535156

Shown on Florida Native Plant: Bidens alba

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CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: White Peacock Butterfly (Anartia jatrophae)

member of the Brushfooted Butterflies Family (Nymphalidae)

Learn: https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/wildflowers/butterfly/white-peacock/

Larval hosts: water hyssop (Bacopa monnieri), frogfruit (Phyla nodiflora)

Shown on Florida Native Plant: Bidens alba

Photo of egg from 2017: https://centralfloridacritteroftheday.wordpress.com/2017/08/08/white-peacock-butterfly-anartia-jatrophae-egg/

My take: When a Peacock Isn’t a Bird
http://floridawildlifegardentails.wordpress.com/2017/03/20/when-a-peacock-isnt-a-bird/

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CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Leafhopper (Jikradia sp. likely olitoria)

syn. Coelidia olitoria

Sucks juices from plants, so can be a pest, but it is said to be a host for Clitemnestra bipunctata, a wasp so it has a beneficial side. source: http://bugeric.blogspot.com/2012/01/wasp-wednesday-clitemnestra-bipunctata.html .

Learn: https://bugguide.net/node/view/7348

Line drawings: https://www.scielo.sa.cr/scielo.php?pid=S0034-77441998000300028&script=sci_arttext

Shown on Florida Native Plant: GOLDENROD (Solidago sp. likely fistulosa)

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CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Jagged Ambush Bug (Phymata fasciata)

Predatory on other insects. They lie in wait for insects to happen by and then grab them. Although they sometimes grab other beneficials, they aren’t fussy and will do in thrips and other insects that may achieve pest status if left unabated so considered quite beneficial.

Learn: http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston/beneficials/beneficial-10_jagged_ambush_bug_(Phymata_sp.).htm

key: http://entomology.ifas.ufl.edu/choate/phymatidae.pdf

Shown on Florida Native Plant: Bidens alba

photo with prey: https://centralfloridacritteroftheday.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/jagged-ambush-bug-phymata-fasciata/

photo of immature: https://centralfloridacritteroftheday.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/jaggedambushnymphironweedaug2013.jpg

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CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: White Checkered-Skipper Butterfly (Pyrgus albescens)

host plants include many species of mallows (Malvaceae); in my yard that would likely be Sida spp.

Learn: http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species/Pyrgus-albescens

My take: http://osceolaflgardenblahblahblog.blogspot.com/2011/06/blur-of-butterfly-missed-opportunity.html

Shown on Florida Native Plant: : Spanish Needles (Bidens alba)

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CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Skeletonizing Leaf Beetle Larva (Ophraella sp.)

Family Chrysomelidae – Leaf Beetles
Subfamily Galerucinae – Skeletonizing Leaf Beetles and Flea Beetles
Tribe Galerucini
No Taxon Section Schematizites
Genus Ophraella

larval stage preyed upon by assassin bugs: https://centralfloridacritteroftheday.wordpress.com/2018/07/16/spined-assassin-bug-sinea-sp-nymph/

Lifecycle at my place: https://centralfloridacritteroftheday.wordpress.com/2016/08/03/leaf-beetle-ophraella-sp-likely-conferta/

Shown on Florida Native Plant: GOLDENROD (Solidago sp. likely fistulosa)

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CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Leafhopper (Scaphytopius sp.)

New addition to my buggy life list. Tiny little thing.

Superfamily Membracoidea – Leafhoppers, Treehoppers and Aetalionids
Family Cicadellidae – Leafhoppers
Subfamily Deltocephalinae
Tribe Scaphytopiini
Genus Scaphytopius

In general leafhopper “nymphs and adults feed on sap of above-ground stems or leaves of plants; some species are more host-specific than others” source: http://bugguide.net/node/view/146

Hard, if not impossible to identify to species.

Learn: Scaphytopius in Florida includes checklist: https://www.fdacs.gov/content/download/10599/file/ent204.pdf

Shown on Florida Native Plant: PINEBARREN GOLDENROD (Solidago fistulosa)

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CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Pyrausta Moth (Pyrausta phoenicealis)

New to my buggy life list.

Small diurnal moth (flies during the day)

Superfamily Pyraloidea – Pyralid and Crambid Snout Moths
Family Crambidae – Crambid Snout Moths
Subfamily Pyraustinae

Learn: https://bugguide.net/node/view/124956

various larval hosts in the mint family.  Also said to feed on Elephantopus sp. (Source: HOSTS – a Database of the World’s Lepidopteran Hostplants)

Shown on Florida Native Plant: : Spanish Needles (Bidens alba)

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CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Syrphid Fly (Ocyptamus sp. possibly antiphates)

Family Syrphidae – Syrphid Flies
Subfamily Syrphinae
Tribe Syrphini
Genus Ocyptamus

These types of syrphids are also referred to as hover flies or flower flies.

They are beneficial. Larvae preys on softbodied insects including aphids.

Adults pollinate.

Learn: http://www.syrphidae.com/whatisasyrphidae.php

Learn more: https://bugguide.net/node/view/1644440/bgpage

general syrphid fly info: http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/NE/syrphid_flies.html

Shown on Florida Native Plant: PAINTEDLEAF; FIRE-ON-THE-MOUNTAIN (Poinsettia cyathophora)

My take: https://floridawildlifegardentails.wordpress.com/2015/08/05/aphids-are-good-wait-what/

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CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Swallow-tailed Kite (Elanoides forficatus)

The unique shape of this raptor makes it unmistakable in flight. It builds nests in treetops of sticks such as cypress or pine, lined with lichen and spanish moss.

Diet: “primarily eat flying insects, but during the breeding season they also hunt small vertebrates, including tree frogs, lizards, nestling birds, and snakes. Less commonly, they also eat bats, small fish, and fruit.”

Learn: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Swallow-tailed_Kite/overview

My take: http://floridawildlifegardentails.wordpress.com/2016/06/30/once-a-fan-this-week-not-so-much/

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CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Clouded Crimson Moth Caterpillar (Schinia gaurae)

looks like an anorexic Monarch caterpillar.  The adults are spectacularly beautiful.  Check them out in the “My take” article below.

Larval host: SOUTHERN BEEBLOSSOM (Oenothera simulans)

Learn: http://bugguide.net/node/view/26702

Shown on Florida Native Plant: SOUTHERN BEEBLOSSOM (Oenothera simulans) (synonym: Gaura angustifolia), the larval host.

My take: https://floridawildlifegardentails.wordpress.com/2017/07/27/just-in-time-for-national-moth-week-2014/

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