Tag Archives: Nature

On the Gopher Tortoise in July of 2014: Inhumanity and Violence

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Gopherus polyphemus, the Gopher tortoise, photographed in Volusia county, Florida (23 May 2014).

Originally, this post was slotted to feature a rather rowdy and rambunctious encounter with a Yellow rat snake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis) and a Cuban treefrog (Osteopilus septentrionalis) in Mount Dora, Florida. As Wednesday 16 July trudged ever-onward, however, an incredibly horrific and offensive story emerged from Orange Park, Florida and spread its tendrils across social media and the internet. This is a long post, and I apologize for that, but it’s weighing very heavily on my heart.

Truly, the story took like brushfire in certain channels of social media, evoking harsh and dramatic calls of violence against two young students at Ridgeview High School who had –for reasons utterly beyond my comprehension– decided it would be awesome to record themselves torturing and killing a young Gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) and to then post those videos on Facebook. I saw those videos. Both of them. And they were truly horrific for many reasons.

22 April 2007, Volusia county.
22 April 2007, Volusia county, Florida.

First, what are we talking about here? The Gopher tortoise is a federally protected species of great ecological importance in the American southeast (most notably in Florida). As their common name suggests, Gopher tortoises dig large burrows in dry, xeric soil. As noted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, approximately 350 other species utilize these burrow systems for their own self-preservation and survival. Being such a keystone species in Florida’s web of ecological complexity, the conservation and protection of the Gopher tortoise isn’t just a “feel good” thing to do… It’s important. It’s very important, and their numbers have already been decimated due to excessive habitat destruction, busy roads, and reckless land development. Thus, it is federally illegal to personally harass, harm, maim, or destroy both Gopher tortoises and/or their burrows.

So, with that in mind, here begins the story of our two teenagers in Orange Park, Florida. You can read the more-journalistic and concise details here, but the story begins with two young women, teenagers, finding a Gopher tortoise in the woods and deciding to keep it. I saw an image of the tortoise in what looked to be a small goldfish-looking bowl. This pretty much signifies the teenage women didn’t understand what the heck they were dealing with. This wasn’t an aquatic turtle. This was a terrestrial Gopher tortoise, and a federally-protected one at that. And a juvenile to boot.

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Still frame from the first video.

Later, they decided to take the young tortoise outside and set it on fire. They also decided to video record the event. Their first video clip (which they uploaded themselves out of pride, it seems) plays like this: The young women laugh hysterically as they douse the juvenile tortoise with some kind of fuel and then light it on fire. The tortoise runs in a circle, not sure how to escape the searing heat. The fire soon extinguishes. Unsatisfied, the young women then try to light a stick on fire and jab it at the tortoise’s face. At this point, the tortoise has curled into its shell as much as it can; it does not know what to do. Next, the young women decide to pick up the turtle, carry it to the street, and to then throw it long-distance like a baseball. Repeatedly. The video is extremely graphic. More disturbing is that these two young women are laughing throughout the whole event. They were positively and absolutely delighted to be torturing this young tortoise. This was a good time in Orange Park, Florida, YOLO.

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Still frame from the second video.

Now comes the second video. Yes, there’s another video.  It’s shorter and easier to describe, though: The young women record themselves forcibly pounding down on the tortoise with a Nike-sandaled foot, shattering the carapace (shell) until its inner organs begin to leak out. “His heart came out with a bunch of grass,” one of the young women notes with elation. The video ends with a  mutilated, shattered, and dead Gopher tortoise and two joyous, giggling, and seemingly satisfied Orange Park teenagers.

These videos broke and continue to break my heart. I can’t stop thinking about them, painting them over and over again in the canvas of my mind. Such cruelty. Such inhumanity.

In August of 2012, I pondered over the pointless blood-lust and violence against turtles (and wildlife more generally) on Dust Tracks. In that post I wrote,

…it feels like we’re sliding down, down, down the scale of humaneness. So many of us seem to be more and more like children in love with cruelty . . . In central Florida, I hope that’s not the case. I hope people are becoming more attuned to the magnificence that surrounds them — a magnificent ocean of bio- and eco-diversity that should be respected, not mocked and slaughtered pointlessly. Heaven knows there’s enough inhumanity elsewhere in the country to go around… And in America, inhumanity is like a cold. It catches and spreads through our ranks. Twitter and Facebook no doubt help the spread, as do the countless discussion boards and comments sections spread all across the web.

Here I am, nearly two years later, and that hope is still flickering, unsure of itself, strained and challenged.

Still, despite the rancid lack of humaneness held by so many cruel and violent people around me, or perhaps more so because of it, my wife and I have tried very, very hard to instill a sense of humaneness in our daughter. We want her to look at the world not only with wonder and awe, but also with respect and kindness, coupled with imagination and curiosity. We want her to understand that she’s a part of something much bigger than herself — something much bigger than all of us. She’s a part of the natural world, and nature is nothing short of divine in its beauty, complexity, and harmony. It is not something to be recklessly, aimlessly, and pointlessly raped and abused with a strange cacophony of violence and exultation. It is something to be cherished and nurtured, something to be admired and honored. To disrespect nature, to embrace violence against nature, is to disrespect one’s very self and to commit violence against one’s own identity as a living participant in the natural world. Violence from rage and violence from joy rarely reap what we wish for: Justice. It just sows more violence.

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And that brings us to the next stage of the social media story. One of the women’s classmates was horrified by the videos. This student downloaded the videos from Facebook and shared them independently. The story was picked up by a group in Nevada and eventually broke nationally.

As people became aware of these videos, they began to go after the young women on social media. On Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram, on Tumblr, they became the targets of an understandably upset and pissed off group of people, the often-mocked “Animal Lovers” (of which I am a proud member). It didn’t take long for the blood to permeate the water, stirring up a kind of feeding frenzy of vitriol. Despite a half-assed pseudo-apology from one of the young women, a tsunami of calls for violence against these women began to crash across the shores of the internet. Brutal name calling, harsh descriptions of personal assault, and vindictive incantations of what should physically be done to these women and their body parts poured over social media. It was ugly. Very ugly. Their names were made public. Some folks even poured through google maps to figure out exactly where they were. Addresses were then posted. Of course, it didn’t take long for the women to go off-radar.

It also didn’t take long for myFWC to publicly respond on Facebook:

Under Investigation: We have received multiple complaints about the videos posted to Facebook last evening showing the killing of a small gopher tortoise. Our officers are investigating the case and are presently working with the State Attorney’s Office to determine what charges may be filed. Please keep alerting us with your tips. Post here, private message, and call the Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) or text Tip@Myfwc.com.

Of all of this –this nightmare of a story– this is the one bright spot. Through social media, the Florida Wildlife Commission was made aware of this horrific crime by way of an avalanche of calls and emails from concerned people, and legal action was set into motion. As for the calls for violence against these women across social media, though I can certainly understand the anger, I simply cannot understand the violent rhetoric. These weren’t just calls for legal justice. These were calls for violent assault. True, the tortoise was innocent and the women were very much, for lack of a better term, evil in their clearly deliberate actions… but still… Can we simply respond to unwarranted violence with calls for lawless violence? I’m just not one for eye-for-an-eye justice. I loathe these women’s actions with a searing intensity, but I do not wish them physical harm. They’ve hurt their own futures well enough, and the law will hopefully take care of the rest. I truly do wish for them the full weight of state and federal law, but inciting violence against them outside of law doesn’t really do anything to help anything. It simply perpetuates inhumanness, the very same fuel that feeds such violence.

18 April 2006, Volusia county.
18 April 2006, Volusia county, Florida

I suppose there’s a lot we could learn from Gopher tortoises, actually… or at least be reminded of. They’re extremely efficient, deeply rational organisms. They don’t waste their time and energy on fruitless assaults upon others. They don’t torture, and they don’t tease. They just go about the business of scratching out a living in this difficult and tumultuous mortal coil. This is certainly true of the Gopher tortoise, one of the most benign and calm of Florida’s many native reptile species.

Further, the Gopher tortoise reminds me of the interconnectivity of life in certain habitats and ecosystems. The Gopher tortoise digs burrows for survival, for example, and hundreds of other organisms then depend on these burrows for their own survival. The actions of these Gopher tortoises directly impact the lives of other organisms. Creatures, be they tortoises or people, simply do not live in vacuums. Our actions have direct, measurable (and certainly immeasurable) impacts on those around us. We are all connected. Our actions have consequences. In the case of humanity, the language we use to express ourselves also carries consequences. Let’s ease up on the violent rhetoric. Let’s not condemn physical violence while embracing verbal violence.


If you’d like to learn more about Gopher tortoises and their conservation, the Gopher Tortoise Council is a fine place to start, as is myFWC’s Gopher tortoise profile page. If you live in the Gopher tortoise’s range, please do what you can to help this species survive beneath the collective weight of habitat loss and inhumane acts of violence. Please try to respect their space while fostering and nurturing their conservation. Whenever I have friends in state, I love to show them a Gopher tortoise doing its thing whenever possible. To me, personally, the Gopher tortoise is as intertwined in my sense of Florida as Spanish moss, the Manatee, and the American alligator. I love showing them off whenever I have visitors. I can’t imagine a Florida without them.

And so I’m going to try to hang on to my ever-challenged sense of hope. I know there’s a lot of ignorance out there, and I know that violence and cruelty can seem as American as apple pie these days… Still, I’m going to choose to live my life in a way that tries to foster productive conservation and respect for the world around me. Though I’ve felt this way most of my life (with thanks to my parents), this conviction of hope has become more entrenched since my daughter joined the fray, despite the growing challenges. I want her to grow up in a world informed and magnified by scientific complexity and naturalist beauty. I want her to marvel in awe at how lucky she is to share this world, this life, her life, with so many wonderfully adapted organisms and ecosystems. This is not a world to torture and kill aimlessly. This is a world to protect and nourish.

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Next on Dust Tracks: As promised, the Yellow rat snake and Cuban treefrog epic!

Storeria victa, the Florida Brown Snake, in Mount Dora, Florida; 13 July 2014

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Storeria victa, the Florida brown snake, photographed in Lake county, Florida (13 July 2014).

On Sunday 13 July, we headed inland to Mount Dora, Florida for an early birthday party with Kid A and her grandparents, my mother and father. Though cake, gifts, and burgers on the grill were the top orders of the day, I –of course– had to duck out to the parents’ backyard to look for snakes when we first arrived. Their property has a long history of being somewhat snake friendly; this day was no exception. Within a few minutes of searching the backyard, I found this lovely Florida brown snake (Storeria victa) bunkered beneath a small concrete plate on the side of the house:

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Coluber constrictor priapus, the Southern Black Racer, in Ormond Beach, Florida; 11 July 2014

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Coluber constrictor priapus, the Southern black racer, photographed in Volusia county, Florida (11 July 2014).

It was a fun week on the snake front beginning with this Southern black racer, Coluber constrictor priapus, caught in my backyard on the 11th of July. It wasn’t too long ago, about three months actually, that I got my ass served by an elusive and overly clever racer in the very same backyard. That missed-racer served as a humiliating defeat in my long legacy of interacting with the fast and agile species. Fortunately, I was able to make up for some of that defeat with this individual and its respective catch. I like to think this was exact same snake who foiled me in April, heh. Anyhow, here’s the story…

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Volusia County Katydids

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Likely Belocephalus subapterus, the Half-winged Conehead katydid, photographed in Volusia county, Florida (03 July 2014).

We’re wrapping up our tiny, little katydid run on Dust Tracks with a plethora of katydid shots and a big, fat taxonomic list of katydids likely found in Volusia county. Let’s start with the katydid featured on this post.

This is likely a Half-winged conehead katydid (Belocephalus subapterus). The identification is backed up a bit by the bugguide.net folks, though there’s a chance it could be another similar species of the same genus: the Palmetto conehead katydid, Belocephalus sabalis. At the moment, I lean more toward B. subapterus; the lower hook beneath the head, not to mention body posture, seems more subapterus than sabalis to me. Still, the identification should be considered tentative at the species level.

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Orchelimum pulchellum, the Handsome Meadow Katydid, in Ormond Beach, Florida; 29 June 2014

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Orchelimum pulchellum, the Handsome meadow katydid, photographed in Volusia county, Florida (29 June 2014).

The Handsome meadow katydid, Orchelimum pulchellum, is a striking species with its mix of emerald green and blood red tones. With a delicate and light call, this species can be heard throughout the Eastern seaboard of the United States, particularly along the edges of marshes and wetlands. I photographed this little individual near Boardman Pond on the Ormond Loop in Volusia county, Florida…

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Bucrates malivolans, the Cattail conehead katydid, in Bulow Creek State Park, Florida (29 June 2014

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Bucrates malivolans, the Cattail conehead katydid (female nymph), photographed in Volusia county, Florida (29 June 2014).

Today, we’re briefly checking out a new species to Dust Tracks: The Cattail conehead katydid, Bucrates malivolans. On the evening of 29 June 2014, while patrolling the edges of the marshes along the Ormond Loop and Bulow Creek State Park, I found dozens of these skittish little ‘hoppers stationed sporadically throughout the tall grasses. Looking at the picture below, I can’t help but also hear all those tiny katydids singing their respective songs, drawing me closer, luring me in…

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Atlanticus gibbosus, the Robust Shieldback, in Ormond Beach, Florida; 26 June 2014

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Atlanticus gibbosus, the Robust shieldback, photographed in Volusia county, Florida (26 June 2014).

Here we have, I believe, a Robust shieldback, Atlanticus gibbosus. You might think this lovely little arbiter of figure-ground contrast is a cricket at first glance, but it’s not. Though related to the crickets within Order Orthoptera (along with all those lanky grasshoppers), the many species of Shieldbacks belong to Family Tettigoniidea. Shieldbacks are a subgroup within the katydid taxon.

In the universe of All-Things-Katydid (and that’s a bigger universe of diversity than you might imagine), the Shieldbacks are grouped together as a subfamily formally called Tettigoniinae. As I’ve learned more in recent years about arthropods, I’ve found the katydids in all their forms and varieties to be the most intriguing within Order Orthoptera, though in the grand scheme of things there is much I still do not know. Anyhow, this striking individual is a certainly a lovely example of their beauty.

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Heteropoda venatoria, the Brown Huntsman Spider, in Lake county, Florida; 27 June 2014

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Heteropoda venatoria, the Brown huntsman spider, photographed in Lake county, Florida (27 June 2014).

One of my favorite spiders in central Florida is the Brown huntsman spider, Heteropoda venatoria, a rather large and rambunctious species sometimes referred to as the Crab spider. Locally, some folks also refer to this species as the Banana spider, as they also do the Golden silk orbweaver, Nephila clavipes. Whatever one may call it, the Brown huntsman can be a formidable sight in the late night hours — when these large spiders come out to play, so to speak. I mean, hey, check out this mug:

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Neoscona crucifera, Hentz’s orbweaver spider, in Ormond Beach, Florida; 26 June 2014

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Neoscona crucifera, Hentz’s orbweaver spider, photographed in Volusia county, Florida (26 June 2014).

When one thinks of summer in Florida, images of the sun-baked beach may spring to mind. Or maybe the silhouette of our giant MouseLord and his magical, sunny kingdom near Orlando? Or perhaps one of our many cool, clear, springwater runs shimmering beneath a clear blue sky? Truly, the words “Florida” and “Summer” taken together may evoke any number of images, and I’d be willing to bet that for most people, the sun is somewhere above and around most of those images. Florida and Summer just seem to be ubiquitously intertwined with sunshine and its accompanying heat.

Still, despite the inflated postcard quality of any given “Sunshine State” summer afternoon, the nighttime is often when the truly wild things come out to play. If you’re looking for wildlife in the thick of the Floridian summer, the night can be more far more productive and fruitful than the day.

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Nerodia taxispilota, the Brown watersnake, in Lake county, Florida; 28 June 2014

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Nerodia taxispilota, the Brown watersnake, photographed in Lake county, Florida (28 June 2014).

In the wonderfully wiggly world of All Things Reptilia, there are two genera that truly rock my world: Genus Anolis, the anole lizards, and Genus Nerodia, the New World watersnakes. In Florida, we (arguably) only have one native species of anole, the Carolina anole (Anolis carolinensis), though it is now accompanied by a number of non-native anole species throughout the peninsula. In the world of watersnakes, on the other hand, we have a good number of differing species belonging to Genus Nerodia, and several of those species are further broken into distinctive subspecies.

I suppose it shouldn’t be too surprising that a single genus of watersnakes has done so well and diversified so much in the American southeast, particularly in Florida. This is a region dominated not only by water, but by many different hydric systems of water. We have the ocean, of course, along with its accompanying salt marshes and mangrove swamps. Then there are the rivers — some being clearwater spring-fed runs and others being dark, slow-moving tannic streams. We have a number of different types of lakes and ponds, as well. There are seasonal wet prairies, hyrdric wetlands, flood plains, cypress swamps, and irrigation canals, just to name a few. Each of these water-fuelled ecosystems has its own ecological matrix, so it really shouldn’t be a surprise that different watersnake species have adapted to these different habitats and ecosystems.

In this post, we’re going to check out the Brown watersnake, Nerodia taxispilota, a large, non-venomous species common throughout much of the American southeast.

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Eleutherodactylus planirostris in Volusia county, Florida!

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Eleutherodactylus planirostris, the Greenhouse frog, photographed in Volusia county, Florida (02 July 2014).

Since we sort of fell into an frog-run here on Dust Tracks, it only seems fitting to duly take note of another of our non-native amphibian brethren, the Greenhouse frog, Eleutherodactylus planirostris.

Native to Cuba and its surrounding islands, the Greenhouse frog has become well established throughout the Floridian peninsula and elsewhere, taking great advantage of manicured lawns and shrubs. In Valdosta, we saw more than a few of them from 2011-2013.  Back in Ormond, I’ve seen a few around the house, but not what I would’ve otherwise expected. I thought there’d be more on our property. Not so much. We actually had more of them in our south Georgia neighborhood than we currently do in central Florida.

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The Southern Leopard Frog at Bulow Creek State Park, Florida; 26 June 2014

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Lithobates sphenocephalus, the Southern leopard frog, photographed in Volusia county, Florida (26 June 2014).

Our next frog, since we seem to be in the midst of a spontaneous frog-marathon on Dust Tracks, is none other than the Southern Leopard frog, Lithobates sphenocephalus. It’s shaping up to be a fun season with the Leopard frogs…

Just over a week ago, we checked out a Southern leopard frog that jumped on my foot in the backyard. Though the frog featured on this post didn’t jump directly on me, it did jump right next to me while I was trying to photograph the sunset over Boardman Pond at Bulow Creek State Park (along the Ormond Loop, 26 June 2014):

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Lithobates sphenocephalus, the Southern Leopard Frog, in Ormond Beach, Florida; 16 June 2014

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Lithobates sphenocephalus, the Southern leopard frog, photographed in Volusia county, Florida (16 June 2014).

Okay, so get this: We moved back to my hometown of Ormond Beach, Florida about a year ago. Before returning to Ormond, we lived in Valdosta, Georgia for two years. While we were in Valdosta, our backyard was a veritable smorgasbord of arthropod and amphibian action. Our spring and summer nights were jammed with a wild variety of critters to photograph and study. It was, to put it bluntly, awesome.

And how has Ormond Beach measured up since our return? Actually, not so great — at least not compared to Valdosta. We live more “in-town” now than we did in Valdosta, and the thickness of our backyard biodiversity has diminished considerably. Sure, our neighborhood has plenty of foliage and trees, but the biodiversity is surprisingly lacking compared to Valdosta. We’ve got a good amount of critters, but it’s not nearly as intense as it was in South Georgia. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised, though. “Bug control” is higher here. You know? There’s more of an active war against all-critters when you’re living in the heart of civilization. On the other hand, when you’re living on the edge of society, as we did in Valdosta, you can expect more critter action in your nightly routine.

This makes the frog featured here all the more awesome.

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Diadophis punctatus punctatus, the Southern Ringneck Snake, in Ormond Beach, Florida; 15 June 2014

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Diadophis punctatus punctatus, the Southern ringneck snake, photographed in Volusia county, Florida (15 June 2014).

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Rhadinaea flavilata, the Pine woods snake; 26 May 2014.

About a month ago, I found a beautiful little Pine woods snake (Rhadinaea flavilata) in our Ormond Beach backyard. It was an adorable little serpent, a tiny little orangish species that is –as surprising as it may seem– venomous, though the venom isn’t really dangerous to people. I had a ball writing about that species last week.

When the post went live, Michael published a comment requesting I do a post on all the “non-venomous” North American snakes that actually are technically venomous. That post certainly is coming later in the summer (though I’ll focus mostly on Florida species), but I’m happy to report I have another non-venomous snake that actually is technically “venomous” to report on tonight: the Southern ringneck snake, Diadophis punctatus punctatus.

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More Than a Few Tadpoles in Tiger Bay State Forest, Florida; 04 May 2014

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Likely Anaxyrus terrestris, the Southrn toad (tadpoles), photographed in Volusia county, Florida (04 May 2014).

For an organism that lives much of its adult life on land, the Southern toad, Anaxyrus terrestrishas to take advantage of whatever water it’s got when it comes to laying eggs. The hatched eggs, after all, will present a gaggle of aquatic tadpoles into the world. For a month or two, each of these newly hatched tadpoles will swim, eat, grow, and metamorphosize into its adult form, eventually leaving the water to then scratch out a living on dry land. In Florida, tadpole-conducive water is luckily easy to come by, though it’s not always where you might expect it:

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Tramea carolina, the Carolina Saddlebags Dragonfly, in Tiger Bay State Forest, Florida; 04 May 2014

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Tramea carolina, the Carolina saddlebags dragonfly, photographed in Volusia county, Florida (04 May 2014).

Today was an ass-kicking at work. It wasn’t necessarily a bad day, mind you; it was simply a busy day. A very, very busy and hard day. Truly, I spent most of the day indoors, surrounded by masses of people under painfully fluorescent lights, all of us stolen away from the warmth of the sun, surrounded by the abstract busyness of work, more work, and then even more work. Busy.

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Agraulis vanillae, the Gulf Fritillary, in Tiger Bay State Forest, Florida; 04 May 2014

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Agraulis vanillae, the Gulf fritillary, photographed in Volusia county, Florida (04 May 2014).

As promised, this is the second of two short butterfly posts for today. Here we have the Gulf fritillary, Agraulis vanillae, another fairly common species of butterfly found throughout the Floridian peninsula. Once again, this identification has been seconded by the iNaturalist.org community, though it’s one I was more confident of in the first place. Still, I admit that when it comes to butterflies and moths, I lack an overwhelming amount of confidence. I am The Constant Skeptic when it comes to my identifications of butterflies and moths! (It’s better to be skeptical than cocky, right?)

Anyhow, I often see Gulf fritillaries throughout peninsular Florida, but their range is quite expansive. The species can be found from Argentina in South America to California in North America, and eastward. For me in Florida, this is one of our “campus butterflies,” meaning it’s one of the species I most often find on college campuses in central Florida. They respond well to somewhat-managed grounds, and that certainly fits the bill for most of Florida’s collegiate campuses.

Next on Dust Tracks: Saddle up!

Junonia coenia, the Common Buckeye, in Tiger Bay State Forest, Florida; 04 May 2014

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Junonia coenia, the Common buckeye, photographed in Volusia county, Florida (04 May 2014).

We’ve got two quick, little Lepidoptera (butterfly) posts lined up for this evening. Our first is the less impressive of the two — at least in terms of photographic prowess. Heh. This isn’t exactly a great shot. Still, I wanted to represent the lovely Common buckeye, Junonia coenia, in the May 2014 run on Dust Tracks.

Unfortunately, this is the only shot I managed to snag of this lovely butterfly at Tiger Bay State Forest on 04 May 2014. The species is fairly common (as its common name suggests), and I hope to find more this summer. Though the photo doesn’t do it justice, Common buckeyes are truly beautiful and ornate!

As for this identification, and to be totally honest with you, I’m assuming this is a Common buckeye more so than I know this is a Common buckeye. There are a number of species in genus Junonia (the Buckeyes), and many of them are quite similar in appearance. My identification’s received a vote of confidence over at iNaturalist.org, so I’m tagging this as J. coenia at this time. That being said, I hope to follow up with more Buckeye action — perhaps with better shots and more conclusive identifications! For now, though, I didn’t want this little butterfly to get lost in the mix. I already lost it once before!

Next on Dust Tracks: Another common Lepidopteran! And then? Saddle up!

Papilio palamedes, the Palamedes Swallowtail, in Tiger Bay State Forest, Florida; 04 May 2014

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Papilio palamedes, the Palamedes swallowtail, photographed in Volusia county, Florida (04 May 2014).

Here we have a Palamedes swallowtail (Papilio palamedesfluttering about the foliage of Tiger Bay State Forest in Volusia county, Florida. The species is fairly common throughout the southeastern reaches of North America, particularly in Florida. I see them frequently and often throughout the peninsula. Adults tend to hang out near wetland and forest clearings. The individual featured here was one of many such swallowtails drifting about Tiger Bay on 04 May 2014.

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