CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Carolina Mantis (Stagmomantis carolina)
Praying mantids are predatory.
Shown on Florida Native ASTER (Symphyotrichum spp.)
Egg case (2013)
CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Salt Marsh Moth Caterpillar (Estigmene acrea)
Native hosts include Dogfennel 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.
This is an early instar.
Coloring can be highly variable: http://mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu/species.php?hodges=8131
Shown on Florida Native Plant: BLUEJACKET; OHIO SPIDERWORT (Tradescantia ohiensis)
CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Groundsel Plume Moth (Hellinsia balanotes)
a.k.a groundsel stemboring moth; Baccharis Borer Plume Moth
Large by plume moth standards. Larvae bore into stems.
Introduced into Australia to control B. halimifolia which is an invasive species on that continent.
My encounter was submitted and accepted to add this species to the Osceola county Florida checklist at butterfliesandmoths.org http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/sighting_details/1109044
larval hosts: Groundsel Bush (Baccharis halimifolia), Great-Plains Falsewillow (Baccharis neglecta), Saltwater Falsewillow (Baccharis angustifolia)
CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Polka-dot Wasp Moth (Syntomeida epilais)
I wasn’t close enough to get a clear shot. See below for one from 2010
Does not sting. Wasp mimic. Adults pollinate. Flies during the day
Larval hosts: Florida native: DEVIL’S POTATO; RUBBERVINE (Echites umbellatus) (limited to coast of southern Florida); Exotic: Oleander which has expanded it range throughout the U.S.
Above Shown on nectaring on Florida Native Plant: GROUNDSEL TREE; SEA MYRTLE (Baccharis halimifolia)
CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Common Oblique Syrphid Fly (Allograpta sp. likely 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%”
In turn the larvae is a food source for several species of wasps.
How to distinguish species: http://bugguide.net/node/view/767641
Shown on Florida Native Plant: GROUNDSEL TREE; SEA MYRTLE (Baccharis halimifolia)
My take: Don’t Swat that Fly
Calliphoridae Family (blowflies) My photo didn’t give a clear enough view of the characteristics that would confirm species. Introduced species. Potential to cause disease in livestock. Larval Stage provides significant Benefits in Forensic Medicine
CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Faint-spotted Palthis Moth (Palthis asopialis)
One of the litter moths (Subfamily Herminiinae). New to my buggy life list. My encounter was submitted and accepted to add this species to the Osceola county Florida checklist at butterfliesandmoths.com http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/sighting_details/1108714
larval hosts: Bidens, Erechtites hieracifolia, Phaseolus vulgaris, Quercus, Symphoricarpos orbiculatus, Zea mays (source: Natural History Museum, London)
CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Jelly Blob (Bryozoan)
Bryozoans are aquatic animals and those in fresh water are in the Phylactolaemata Class.
They filter water and can be an indicator of good water quality. A beneficial creature which inhabits lakes that have lots of food. they eat diatoms and algae.
Shown in the pond attached to dried plant debris among Florida Native Plant: COMBLEAF MERMAIDWEED (Proserpinaca pectinata)
My take: The Blob and the Beginning of Winter
“The predators of freshwater bryozoans are mainlyfish, but raccoons also like to eat the gelatinousspecies.” (source: http://www.des.nh.gov/organization/commissioner/pip/factsheets/bb/documents/bb-59.pdf) added 3/10/17
Egrets often stop by the pond to munch away on the aquatic fauna that swim below the massive Florida Native American White Water Lily pads. They are very aware of any movement so despite my efforts to remain still, as soon as I crept a little closer it took flight and headed two doors over to my neighbors 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 more: http://www.sms.si.edu/irlspec/Ardea_alba.htm
clearer photo of this species taken in 2013 while feeding with the ibis:
My take: Big Winter Birds
CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Cassius Blue Butterfly (Leptotes cassius) Egg/Larvae
Had I not seen the butterfly laying eggs, there is no way I ever would have found the minute (smaller than 1/2 a pin head) egg. In trying to get a better photo of the egg a day or two later I saw on the computer screen that it had hatched and the larva was in the same shot.
Larval Host Plants: Milkpea (Galactia spp.), Leadwort (Plumbago spp.), wild tamarind (Lysiloma latisiliquum)
Learn more: VIDEO of ant interacting with a caterpillar: http://www.terranat.com/default.html?recid=132_notes
Shown on Florida Native Plant: DOCTORBUSH (Plumbago zeylanica)
CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)
The Jays are daily visitors to the Laurel Oak and, as you can see, they come for the plump acorns. Very vocal birds.
Shown on Florida Native Plant: LAUREL OAK; DIAMOND OAK (Quercus laurifolia)
They also readily come to platform feeders as can be seen in this photo from March 2013
CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Southern Black Racer Snake (Coluber constrictor priapus)
NON-VENOMOUS. Sleak beauty was lounging in the sun on the storage cabinet.
Diet: frogs, lizards, snakes, rodents, birds, eggs
My take: A Race to the End
The Water System as Wildlife Habitat
CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)
Beautiful bird with distinctive call. The males are bright red, the females a more subdued reddish brown.
Male Shown on Florida Native Plant: AMERICAN ELDER; ELDERBERRY (Sambucus nigra L. subsp. canadensis)
Female Shown on Florida Native Plant: Bidens alba
My take: Gardening Payoff
CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Crab Spider (Mecaphesa sp.)
Tiny. a.k.a. Flower spider. Often will take on the color of the flower they are using to lie in wait for prey.
several in the crab spider family are very similar. You can distinguish them by the eye configurations.
Shown on Florida Native Plant: Bidens alba