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Monthly Archives: February 2015

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

These ambush prey as opposed to using a web to capture. Sometimes referred to as flower spiders. Wide variety of colors which generally 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: Spanish Needles (Bidens alba)

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CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Wood Stork (Mycteria americana)

Hanging out next to the front culvert. There are crawdads in there as well as mosquito fish, and snakes (EAT THE COTTONMOUTHS PLEASE!!!!)

Diet includes fish, crayfish,, frogs, reptiles.

Federal Status: Endangered but global population seems to be secure.

Learn: http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/imperiled/profiles/birds/wood-stork/

My take: http://www.beautifulwildlifegarden.com/odd-duck.html

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CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)

Scanning for food from the comfort of the address sign post. They like woods and water and scream loudly as they fly.

Diet includes mammals, snakes, lizards, frogs, birds (hopefully house sparrows and starlings) and my favorite choice of diet, lubber grasshoppers!

Natural biocontrol.

Learn: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Red-shouldered_Hawk/lifehistory

shown against a backdrop of Florida Native Plant: SOUTHERN BAYBERRY; WAX MYRTLE (Myrica cerifera) A.K.A. Morella cerifera

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CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

Visiting the culvert out front of my place.

Diet: fish, reptiles, frogs, small mammals, crustaceans, and (ahem!) other birds.

“Great Blue Herons live in both freshwater and saltwater habitats, and also forage in grasslands and agricultural fields, where they stalk frogs and mammals. Most breeding colonies are located within 2 to 4 miles of feeding areas, often in isolated swamps or on islands, and near lakes and ponds bordered by forests.”

Learn: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Great_Blue_Heron/id

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CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Fruit Fly (Xanthaciura sp.)

Pretty wings and eyes on this one.

“The known larvae of Xanthaciura spp. all feed in composite flowers” (including Bidens spp. and Eupatorium
coelestinum (accepted name: Conoclinium coelestinum) source: http://organicroots.nal.usda.gov/download/CAT86200395/PDF pg44-46

Fresh from Florida reports adults from this genus may feed on Citrus. source: http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Divisions-Offices/Plant-Industry/Plant-Industry-Publications/Tri-ology-FDACS-DPI/Volume-51-Number-1-January-February-2012/January-February-2012-Entomology-Section

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

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CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Little Blue Dragonlet Dragonfly (Erythrodiplax minuscula)

This tiny species likes low vegetation and was back in the grasses surrounding the pond. Like all dragonflies, it is beneficial in both the aquatic larval stage where it will eat mosquito larvae, and as adults where it catches flying insects, often pests.

Learn: http://www.odonatacentral.org/index.php/FieldGuideAction.get/id/47029

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