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%”
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
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
Adult Key to the Odonate Families of Florida: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in632
Shown on Florida native plant: PILLPOD SANDMAT (Euphorbia hirta)
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 more: http://entomology.ifas.ufl.edu/creatures/veg/leaf/saltmarsh_caterpillar.htm
Shown on Florida Native Plant: PILLPOD SANDMAT (Euphorbia hirta)
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 more: http://www.sms.si.edu/irlspec/Ardea_alba.htm
My take: Big Winter Birds
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
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…”
Bothrotes canaliculatus acutus
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)”
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:
“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
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.
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