Gossamer Tapestry

Reflections on conservation, butterflies, and ecology in the nation's heartland

Monday, October 26, 2009

Adventures in the Wilds of Pure Florida

My long-planned travel has begun. Getting ready for the travel has taken me away from a lot of blogging activities. I've been directly chastised by UrSpo for my lack of posts. Mea culpa. I won't be lacking for interesting subject material in the coming weeks.

Greetings from Gainesville Florida. One segment of my regular readers should find this picture of the red Jeep and black Lab to be an instant giveaway regarding how I spent my day yesterday. Before I came down to Florida, I emailed FC and asked him if he'd be amenable to showing me a bit of his part of the world. We made plans to meet at Cedar Key Scrub and look for insects.

Cedar Key Scrub is a beautiful place, with lots of interesting plants and animals. We even got to see the rare Florida Scrub Jay. FC's photo came out much better than mine, so you can go see a good shot of it there. FC said that we were just a bit past the peak for fall wildflowers, but there was still lots to see.

Blazing Star (Liatris sp.)


I was especially impressed with the blazing stars. There looked to be a couple of different species, and they were completely different from the ones that we have at home in Illinois. I also wanted to make sure that I got a photo of the Coontie, Florida's native cycad for Leon. FC has promised seeds and instructions. Great, now we can have seedlings from a second species of cycad all over the house.

Band-winged Grasshopper awaiting identification.

Bird grasshopper (Schistocerca) I'm pretty sure this is S. rubiginosa.

Eastern Lubber (Romalea microptera)
Our walk began with the temperature cool and dew still in the grass. We didn't see many insects at first, but eventually tings warmed up. There were tons of grasshoppers. I had hoped to see beetles- and they too put in appearances.

A flower longhorn beetle (Typocerus sp.)

Actually Strangalia sexnotata.  Thanks, Ted.

One of the Dynastine scarabs

Of course, the beetles that I wanted most to see were tiger beetles. It was fairly late in the walk before they showed, but I was not disappointed. This form of the Festive Tiger Beetle is a new subspecies for me. Sadly, my images are only so-so.

Festive Tiger Beetle (Cicindela scutellaris scutellaris)
As good as the insect viewing was during the trip, the herps were the truly memorable wildlife of the day. I guess that's not surprising, I was getting the full Pure Florida treatment here. I got a great photo of a toad.


Late in the walk, FC leat Bear trail his leash and run up ahead a few feet to wait in the shade for us to catch up. At one point Bear was about 20 feet ahead of me, with FC close behind. I let out a yelp. Bear had walked just inches from a diamondback rattlesnake, with FC passing not much further away from it. FC restrained Bear to keep him out of harm's way, and we both got some photos of the snake.

Florida Diamondback (Crotalus adamanteus)

I'll get you- and your big moose of a dog, too!

We kind of got lost during our hike. At least that's what FC said. I did at one point wonder if the hike was just more appealing than the honey-do list that Mrs. FC might have had waiting for him back home. We agreed to hike for a couple of hours and were out for over twice that. FC is a great guy, and I couldn't have asked for a better guide to this little slice of Floridian wonder.

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At 22:22, Blogger Ur-spo said...

good photos too!
You always keep my interest in biology going.

That snake is the most fascinating bit; I wonder if I would have freaked out.

At 22:50, Blogger Gaelyn said...

What a great collection of life you captured on your FL walk. That snake was a little close for my tastes.

At 01:53, Blogger Gallicissa said...

Great haul.
My favourite too is that Diamondback. The Eastern Lubber is a close second.

At 05:32, Blogger Randy Emmitt said...

Hope you have a fun trip! Those lubbers are something aren't they, saw several in SC in August. Never seen any rattlesnakes in FL, we get canebrakes ever so often in our coastal plain. Looking forward to seeing some rare butterfly photos!!

At 05:40, Anonymous Pablo said...

Did you drive separate cars?

At 09:19, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was so much fun. Thanks for the photos--they were awesome.

At 09:55, Blogger robin andrea said...

That looks and sounds like quite an adventure. Beautiful beetles and frogs, and that SNAKE! Wow. And how cool to experience all of that with the steward of Pure Florida.

At 13:56, Blogger Floridacracker said...

I had a great time. Really enjoyed the insight into my local insects that you provided and your photos are just spectacular.

Can't wait to hear about your other adventures after I left you.

At 15:03, Blogger Kathiesbirds said...

Glad to have you posting again, though I, too, have been away for awhile! I like the color blue in that Festive Tiger Beetle! Glad no one was hurt by the snake!

At 16:31, Anonymous Mark H said...

DOUG! I HAD NO idea rattlers were in the humid parts of Florida. We saw them often as a kid in desert parts of Oregon. I imagined lots of gorgeous bugs there, but not the snake. GREAT to hear about the beginning of your trip.......

At 18:10, Anonymous Beetles in the Bush said...

Great, great pics! You're much better about getting things up during the time you actually see them than I (just now getting to my Florida stuff after more than 2 months!).

Your flower longhorn is Strangalia sexnotata - I've not seen one with dark elytral apices such as yours, but it is a variable species as suggested by its several synonyms.

Love the unicolor festive tiger beetle - gotta get me some one of these days (I have it in my collection, I just haven't seen it in the wilds for myself).

Looking forward to more stuff!


At 09:54, Blogger Celeste said...

Grrrrr! Very jealous of the rattler :)

At 11:57, Blogger Jim said...

I like snakes. And rattlesnakes are fascinating. Far away from me, in a safe distance of course, LOL.

Pretty amazing photos.


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