CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Starbellied Orbweaver Spider (Acanthepeira sp. possibly venusta)

“It is exceedingly difficult to separate some Acanthepeira specimens from the southeastern United States and it appears that three species interbreed” source: http://bugguide.net/node/view/1994

Because of the small size, I believe this is A. venusta.

Shown on Florida Native Plant: TURKEY TANGLE FOGFRUIT; CAPEWEED (Phyla nodiflora)

Diet: insects

Learn: http://bugguide.net/node/view/1994

My take: http://web.archive.org/web/20150330224710/http://www.beautifulwildlifegarden.com/new-spider-in-my-life.html



CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Florida Leatherleaf Slug (Leidyula floridana) I One of the native Mollusca who function mostly as decomposers so are beneficial. “Florida’s generally sandy soil is not conducive to slugs, but they occur where organic matter is abundant, and of course the generally humid conditions favor slug survival.” (source: UF IFAS) soooo, if slugs are a problem in your yard, seems the solution would be to forego all the fertilizers necessary to keep exotics in peak condition and plant native plants which are adapted to the existing soils.

Learn: http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/misc/gastro/slugs_of_florida.htm

My take: https://floridawildlifegardentails.wordpress.com/2018/07/11/feeling-sluggish/


CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Eastern Mole (Scalopus aquaticus)

“Moles are not rodents but belong to the mammalian Order Insectivora. Insectivora means insect eater…”

Beneficial since they eat garden pests such as grubs and mole crickets. Their tunneling loosens and aerates the soil.

My take: https://floridawildlifegardentails.wordpress.com/2018/02/10/the-hills-are-alive-at-my-housethe-beneficial-mole/

Learn: http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/design/gardening-with-wildlife/moles.html


Select resource:

William H. Kern, Jr., associate professor, Entomology and Nematology Department, Ft. Lauderdale, Research and Education Center, Davie, FL 33314, and the Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, 32611. WEC-66 (UW080): Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences,  University of Florida. Publication: May 1994. Revised: August 2009. Please visit the EDIS Web site at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.


CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) Juvenile

Mimus polyglottos

Beautiful song from this state bird of Florida who mimics others. Big on berries, especially holly and winged sumac.  This youngster is waiting patiently for the elderberries to ripen.

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.

Learn: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Northern_Mockingbird/id

babies in nest: https://centralfloridacritteroftheday.wordpress.com/2014/04/17/northern-mockingbird-baby-mimus-polyglottos/

fledge: https://centralfloridacritteroftheday.wordpress.com/2015/05/30/northern-mockingbird-fledge-mimus-polyglottos/

adult: https://centralfloridacritteroftheday.wordpress.com/2017/10/18/northern-mockingbird-mimus-polyglottos-4/

Shown on Florida Native Plant: AMERICAN ELDER; ELDERBERRY (Sambucus nigra subsp. canadensis) 

My take: Mockingbird: Melodious but Mean



CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Elongate Twig Ant (Pseudomyrmex gracilis)

Dragging a live moth through the groundcovers presumably to its nest.

Although the ant is not a Florida native, it does help keep a balance in the garden since it is a predator.

Learn: http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/misc/ants/elongate_twig_ant.htm

My take:

Ant Supermodels in the Garden?