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: 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: Long-tailed Skipper Butterfly (Urbanus proteus)
Larval host: “Numerous members of the Pea family (Fabaceae) including Beaked Butterfly Pea (Centrosema virginianum), American Wisteria (Wisteria americana), Kudzu (Pueraria Montana), and ticktrefoils (Desmodium spp.)”
Shown on Florida Native Plant: DOCTORBUSH (Plumbago zeylanica)
My take: http://floridawildlifegardentails.wordpress.com/2017/03/23/dont-skip-the-long-tailed-skipper-butterfly/
Caterpillar from October 2013:
Longtail Skipper Butterfly Caterpillar
CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Scentless Plant Bug (Harmostes serratus)
Scentless Plant Bug (Harmostes serratus)
The Rhopalidae Family eats seeds of herbaceous plants, but some are arborea
Shown on Florida Native Plant: Spanish Needles (Bidens alba)
CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Black Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio polyxenes asterius)
Nectaring on Florida native Bidens alba the dots on the body are an identifying characteristic of this beauty. This one is male.
Larval host: carrot family (Apiaceae) including non-native parsley (Petroselinium crispum), dill (Anthum graveolens), fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), Florida native mock bishop’s weed (Ptilimnium capillaceum)
In my yard they use Florida Native Plant WATER COWBANE (Tiedemannia filiformis) as the larval host.
Despite having mock bishops weed in my yard, I have never seen this species use it.
Learn more: http://bugguide.net/node/view/2636
There are color variations in adults.
Learn more: http://butterfliesofamerica.com/t/Papilio_polyxenes_a.htm
My take: https://floridawildlifegardentails.wordpress.com/2016/11/11/moving-day-black-swallowtail-butterfly/
From past encounters:
Photo of female: https://centralfloridacritteroftheday.wordpress.com/2017/02/20/eastern-black-swallowtail-butterfly/
older instar larva:
see also: https://centralfloridacritteroftheday.wordpress.com/2016/09/24/eastern-black-swallowtail-butterfly-caterpillar-papilio-polyxenes/