CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Tachinid fly (Archytas sp.)
Beneficial: Parasitic Fly. control of pest caterpillar (think armyworm and cutworm!) which they use as food for their developing larva.
Performs some pollination as adults take nectar.
Tachinids are parasitoids of other insects, but the most common hosts are caterpillars.
Owlet Moths (Noctuidae) » Cutworm or Dart Moths (Noctuinae) and armyworms are known hosts per Taxonomic and Host Catalogue of the Tachinidae of America North of Mexico
Family Tachinidae – Parasitic Flies
Shown on Florida Native Plant: Bidens alba
Tachinid Fly (Archytas sp.)
CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Bird (Polioptila caerulea)
This one was dancing in a tangle of Bidens alba, Blackberry (Rubus sp.), Bushy Bluestem Grass (Andropogon sp). and Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) to gleen the insects held within.
Its primary diet is insects.
These birds don’t stand still for even a moment (thus the blur of a picture)
CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Blackberry Looper Moth Caterpillar (Chlorochlamys chloroleucaria)
New to my buggy life list. My encounter was submitted and accepted to add this species to the Osceola county Florida checklist at butterfliesandmoths.org
Family Geometridae – Geometrid Moths
Subfamily Geometrinae – Emeralds
Larval host: generalist feeder, there are 31 listed hosts in the The Natural History Museum (London) HOSTS a Database of the World’s Lepidopteran Hostplants
“…larvae typically fed on the flowers of the hosts, especially in the Asteraceae. Wagner et al. (2002) list a variety of common hosts and note
the larvae also feed on leaves and fleshy fruits.” source: Larval Hostplants of Geometridae (Lepidoptera) Collected by Dale H. Habeck in Florida,” 116(1)
Deborah L. Matthews, Charles V. Covell, Katrina M. Lane, Jacqueline Y. Miller Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington (1 January 2014) pg 58)
Photos of adults which are small green moths with tan markings: https://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species/Chlorochlamys-chloroleucaria
Shown on Florida Native Plant: TICKSEED (Coreopsis sp.)
Blackberry Looper Moth Caterpillarr (Chlorochlamys chloroleucaria)
CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly (Phoebis sennae)
Here’s a video slideshow of a cloudless sulphur butterfly from caterpillar to freedom I did back in 2011.
Larval host: Partridge pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata), sensitive pea (C. nictitans), sicklepod senna (Senna obtusifolia), also non-native coffee senna (S. occidentalis), candle plant (S. alata)
Shown on Florida Native Plant: Bidens alba
My take: https://floridawildlifegardentails.wordpress.com/2015/08/01/are-you-what-you-eat-in-the-wildlife-garden/
CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Aphid (Family Aphididae)
Winged Aphid (Family Aphididae)
There are new buds on the WILD LIME; (Zanthoxylum fagara) and I noticed some movement of ants and ladybugs so I took a few photos to see what the attraction was.
Aphids are much like butterflies in that they flock to particular host plants. Not sure of the genus or species on this one, but a database of potential hosts leads to possibly Aphis sp. or Myzus sp.
Too many people worry about aphids on their ornamental plants in the garden. My theory is that this comes, in part, because aphids on a houseplant can lead to the demise of the plant because there are no aphid predators flying around the inside of your house to control the problem. This is not the case of the outside, natural world of your garden.
Aphids serve as larval hosts for pollinators. Kill an aphid, starve a bird.
Shown on Florida Native Plant: WILD LIME; LIME PRICKLYASH (Zanthoxylum fagara)
My take: Aphids are Good? Wait.WHAT???
Take II: https://floridawildlifegardentails.wordpress.com/2017/09/01/war-on-aphids/
CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)
Beautiful song from this state bird of Florida who mimics others. Big on berries, especially holly and winged sumac.
They stir up insects to feed their young during nesting season and I’ve had them nest many times in the native groundsel tree and wax myrtle (bayberry) shrubs. Territorial, they will battle each other and other birds including those much larger than themselves.
babies in nest: https://centralfloridacritteroftheday.wordpress.com/2014/04/17/northern-mockingbird-baby-mimus-polyglottos/
Shown on Florida Native Plant: LAUREL OAK; DIAMOND OAK (Quercus laurifolia)
My take: Mockingbird: Melodious but Mean