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Monthly Archives: February 2013

CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Florida Ivory Millipede (Chicobolus spinigerus)

Florida Ivory Millipede (Chicobolus spinigerus) is detritivores, breaking down both dead plant and animal matter returning the nutrients to the soil. They are harmless so if you find them inside, just move them back outside where they can do some good.

They are sometimes raised as pets, apparently they have a lifespan of up to 10 years. This guy (gal?) was walking across the patio at night. They are mostly nocturnal.

Millipedes are eaten by frogs, lizards, some beetles, some birds and their main predator, the shrew.

Learn: http://www.fcps.edu/islandcreekes/ecology/north_american_millipede.htm

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CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Cuban Treefrog (Osteopilus septentrionalis) **INVASIVE SPECIES**

There is no denying they can be cute from a distance, but up close they are slimy and messy and can produce allergic reactions in people.

A BIG invader which is threatening Florida’s ecosystems as they eat and out compete our native species of treefrogs. They hide in dark places and can short circuit electric lights or your water softening system threatening your pocketbook.

They are back! and because of the lack of a hard freeze this year (in these parts), the numbers are on the rise. I already caught three in the last three days and I’ve seen a couple more that I couldn’t reach. Those caught are in the freezer awaiting trash pickup.

If you find them, euthanize them using the methods suggested by the University of Florida.

Learn: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/UW259

Here’s a photo from 2009 when they invaded my bird houses. Cute, but they have to go!

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CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae)

The cloudless sulphur is a rather large butterfly easily seen because of it’s bright lemon color. My observations indicate it is particularly fond of red flowers, although I see it often on Bidens alba.

Butterflies are attracted to most flowers for nectar including this Coral Honeysuckle.

If you want increased populations you need to provide host plants for the caterpillars. In my garden that is Partridge Pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata) for this species.

Read my experiences with the caterpillars of this species and color variations: https://floridawildlifegardentails.wordpress.com/2015/08/01/are-you-what-you-eat-in-the-wildlife-garden/

Learn: http://bugguide.net/node/view/501

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CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)

Look who was in the middle of the next street when I was coming home from shopping. I lifted him (her???I didn’t turn it over) to the side of the road and then headed home to get my camera. I returned to be sure (s)he was sticking to the side of the road which (s)he was. Another guy in a car stopped and asked if I was “sheparding” him otherwise he was going to monitor him for a while to be sure he was ok.

I stayed around as he continued down the block and then he suddenly hung a sharp left and plodded off into one of the unoccupied wooded lots.

Important keystone species which is threatened in the state of Florida due to habitat loss. If you see one in the roadway, take the time to help it according to FWC recommendations:

Learn: http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/profiles/reptiles-and-amphibians/reptiles/gopher-tortoise/

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CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Gulf Fritillary Butterfly (Agraulis vanillae)

The storms were about to come through when I spotted this guy (gal?) hanging on a piece of dried sedge under a protective cover of the leaf of a holly cultivar.

Want them in your yard? If you are in their range, just plant some Passionvine aka purple passion flower aka maypop (Passiflora incarnata) which is the larval host for this beauty of a butterfly and you’ll have them in droves. And they LOVE Bidens alba as a nectar source.

Learn: https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/wildflowers/butterfly/gulf-fritillary/

My take: https://floridawildlifegardentails.wordpress.com/2017/08/14/fritillary-butterfly-gone-rogue/

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CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Feral Cat (Felis catus)

This cat is simply beautiful, but it is wild and does have an affect on our native fauna. I see it trying to track down birds (so far without success when I am around). It has an inherent fear of me and runs to hide even when I am two lots away.

Keep an eye on your cat. If you feel it needs to go outside, monitor it…or take a lesson from my sister and buy it a baby carriage and proudly push it around so it gets that fresh air 🙂

Learn: http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/feral_cats/

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CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Saltmarsh Caterpillar (Estigmene acrea)

In my yard, usually feed on Dogfennel or Elderberry but they can be a pest of some crops and some trees.

You can find them walking through the grass or even along the driveway as this one was. They move very quickly (see video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=BQsGLZNHj84)

If disturbed, they roll up into a ball.

This caterpillar serves as a host: parasitized by tachinid flies

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

This photo is from a few years back.

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CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Skipper Butterfly

Skippers belong to the Superfamily Hesperioidea of the order Lepidoptera. There are several subfamilies with many Genus and countless species within each Genus. (see the family tree here: http://bugguide.net/node/view/266424/tree/all)
I’m guessing this is a Grass Skipper (Subfamily Hesperiinae)

These butterflies spend a lot of time on Bidens alba for nectar and in the grass for protection. Larval hosts are grasses and sedges where caterpillars feed during the night.

Learn: http://bugguide.net/node/view/12855

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