Anax junius, the Common green darner, photographed in Flagler county, Florida (10 April 2014).
The drive from my home in Ormond Beach to the Flagler/Palm Coast DSC campus is quite fantastic. I head up there every Wednesday for work, and I take my sweet time doing it. More often than not, I’ll begin by driving through the Ormond Loop and salt marshes to the beach. From there, I then hook a left and head north on A1A, skirting the edge of the Atlantic all the way up to Flagler Beach. I’ve posted a number of Atlantic Dawn shots this semester to mark these lovely coastal drives and the sights they’ve presented. Despite the chill, I’ve enjoyed these little early morning beachscapades before work.
Spodoptera dolichos, the Sweetpotato armyworm moth, photographed in Volusia county, Florida (23 March 2014).
This is a Sweetpotato armyworm moth, Spodoptera dolichos – a new species for Dust Tracks, but certainly not a rare one in the southeastern United States. In fact, they apparently range all the way south to and through Argentina in South America. This is a hardy moth with quite the range!
Camponotus castaneus, the Reddish carpenter ant, photographed in Volusia county, Florida (16 March 2014).
To step away from the increasing presence of snakes this spring, let’s take a brief look at a winged carpenter ant I photographed on a broad tropical leaf under an outdoor light in our backyard. With thanks to the folks over at bugguide.net for the identification, this is Camponotus castaneus, the Reddish carpenter ant. Carpenter ants (Genus Camponotus) are so named for their tendency to colonize and build nests inside wood such as rotting logs. This particular species, C. castaneus, however, tends to stick to looser soil.
30-Year-Old-Janson would’ve totally caught this Southern black racer (Coluber constrictor priapus). 40-Year-Old-Janson, however, failed miserably. Heh.
With their sharp visual acuity and remarkable speed and agility, Southern black racers aren’t the easiest snakes to catch. They’re fast and extremely reactive. I admit I do pride myself somewhat in being fairly good at reading racers. I can often anticipate which direction they’ll flee or what nearby shrubbery they’ll pick for cover. I’ve caught and photographed many a’racer over the years with great success. So, I was pretty damn confident I’d catch this young adult slinking around the edge of our house earlier in the week. It was positioned perfectly for a nice, easy catch.
Oh, hell. I know, I know. Another snake post, Janson? Well, yes. Another snake post. At the end of last post, after all my fawning over the blue garter snake, I did say that I planned to get back to the bugs on Dust Tracks. And what you see here certainly is not a bug. Still, I also said that this was “assuming I [didn't] find another snake between now and the next post…” Well, wouldn’t you know it, I did find another snake. Two, actually. This is the first. (We’ll deal with the second one in our next post!)
Thamnophis sirtalis, the Garter snake, photographed in Flagler county, Florida (02 April 2014).
Okay, yeah, so I know in the last post that I hinted bugs were coming next on Dust Tracks… and I truly do understand that what you see here is totally not a bug. It is, yes, yet another snake. Please forgive me, but if you skim this post quickly you should quickly see why I abandoned the previously planned bug post and jumped right back into snake action. This snake was absolutely gorgeous! A complete and total knock out!
Let’s make it three-for-three, shall we? Here then is a third snake post for the week! Rah! Truth be told, March was a pretty weak month on the snake front. Weaker than I’d hoped for, at least. With plenty of work on my table, not to mention persistent and utterly irritating cold fronts and lousy weather, I simply haven’t had much opportunity to get outside with decent sunshine. My timing has been off. It was a bit of a bummer as far as March is concerned. Imagine my pleasure, then, when I found this lovely little Southern ringneck snake (Diadophis punctatus punctatus) bunkered down under a concrete slab in my parents’ Mount Dora backyard. A common snake, no doubt about it — but a welcomed experience.
Nerodia floridana, the Florida green watersnake, photographed in Lake county, Florida (15 March 2014).
Behold! The mighty Florida green watersnake, Nerodia floridana! Indeed, I saw more than a few Florida greens during this short visit to Palm Island Park in Mount Dora, Florida — at least fifteen, to be precise, in under thirty minutes.
Storeria victa (Storeria dekayi victa), the Florida brown snake, photographed in Lake county, Florida (15 March 2014).
Ah yes, here we go! Spring is for snakes! Here we have a lovely Florida brown snake, Storeria victa, caught and photographed in my parents’ Mount Dora backyard. Previously (and still by some) classified as a subspecies of Dekay’s brown snake (as Storeria dekayi victa), the Florida brown snake is a fairly widespread and common species found throughout much of peninsula Florida. I found this little charmer bunkered out under a small concrete slab on the edge of the yard.
Perhaps Ophion idoneus, the Short-tailed Icheumon wasp, photographed in Volusia county, Florida (04 March 2014).
Here’s a fun little camper for you! This is a species of Ichneumon wasp, perhaps Ophion idoneus. It could possible be Enicospilus purgatus, but the top vote on bugguide.net is currently Ophion idoneus. I tend to go with the flow on bugguide.net. Those dudettes and dudes know their arthropods! I have tagged this as Ophion idoneus for the time being.
Ah, yes… January 7th, 2014. That was a fun morning. Though Florida had dodged most of the frozen shenanigans striking so many throughout the Lower 48, we finally got our asses crisped by the cold during the early morning hours of January 7th, 2014.
After visiting Matheson Hammock Park (Part I) and observing a number of Puerto Rican crested anoles (Part II), I hopped south a few clicks to Chapman Field Park, an urban park situated on the southern end of Coral Gables, just to the east of Palmetto Bay.
I’m heading down to South Florida for the next few days to furiously photograph as many anoles as I can possibly focus in my Nikon’s lens. It’s going to be a busy –and hopefully productive– weekend. In the meantime, I hope the Holidays are treating you well!
Antheraea polyphemus, the Polyphemus moth, photographed in Volusia county, Florida (19 October 2013).
In the past few months, we’ve seen a number of cool moths from Family Saturniidae (the “Silk” moths) in Ormond Beach, Florida and Valdosta, Georgia. We’ve seen Imperial moths (Eacles imperialis), Spiny oakworm moths (Anisota stigma), Pink-striped oakworm moths (Anisota virginiensis), and even an Io moth (Automeris io). Two nights ago, here in Ormond Beach, we had yet another massive silk moth visitor to the house: a female Polyphemus moth, Antheraea polyphemus.
Tibicen similaris, the Similar dog-day cicada, photographed in Volusia county, Florida (08 September 2013).
Alas, it’s our final cicada post for late-Fall 2013! And what a story this little dude presented. When I first spotted this cicada on our back patio in Ormond Beach, Florida, I once again wasn’t sure which species it was. It pretty much fell in line with all the other What The Hell Is That? cicadas from the month prior.
Eacles imperialis, the Imperial moth, photographed in Volusia county, Florida (09 October 2013).
I’ve been wicked busy on the home- and work-front this past month. Truth be told, I haven’t really gotten out for a good hike in quite some time. As the temperatures start to ease up with each passing day, and as “winter” in Florida slowly draws closer, I feel like I’m missing some tremendous opportunities for wildlife and photography. Yet, at the same time, the great thing about Vida en La Florida is that the organisms will often come to you — big, small, and everything in-between. There’s always something new just around the corner. Sometimes, that “corner” is literally the corner of your house.
We’re getting close to wrapping up our little run of alternating Ormond Beach cicada posts. Just a few more to go! Here we have a Salt marsh cicada, Diceroprocta viridifascia, photographed on our back patio in Ormond Beach, Florida. This was on 02 September 2013. I’d seen a few of these Salt marsh cicadas back in August — in both New Smyrna Beach and beachside Ormond. I had not, however, seen one on our property until this individual. This is the farthest inland I’ve seen one, though I should note we only live about 3.8 miles from the Atlantic Ocean (which is awesome).
Since moving back to Ormond Beach this past summer, I’ve been surprised by the relative lack of moths in our backyard at night. Despite a plethora of patio lights, we just don’t seem to be attracting too many moths. It could be that our neighborhood is subject to bug control spray. Or perhaps our house isn’t as attractive as the open ranch-styled home on the other side of the foliage line? Or maybe they’re just sparse this time of year… I’m not sure, and I won’t get a good idea of the many annual arthrorhythms until at least a couple of full cycles have passed. Whatever the case, we do see some cool action from time to time. Don’t get me wrong: we do have plenty of arthropods, moths included. The arthro-action just isn’t nearly as dense as what we experienced in Valdosta, Georgia these past two years.
Tibicen similaris, the Similar dog-day cicada, photographed in Volusia county, Florida (01 September 2013).
If you’ve been following Dust Tracks for some time, you probably know that I have a bit of a mancrush on cicadas right now. Since the summer of 2012, when our Valdosta backyard was stormed by a rush of Tibicen auletes, I’ve been more than a little fascinated by these remarkable arthropods, confusing as they may sometimes be.
Xylophanes tersa, the Tersa sphinx moth, photographed in Volusia county, Florida (22 August 2013).
Admittedly, these aren’t the most attractive photographs you’ll see on Dust Tracks, though the organism features here is beyond awesome in appearance and design. This is a Tersa sphinx moth, Xylophanes tersa, photographed with my iPhone 5 the morning of 22 August 2013. The moth was bunkered down on a beachside establishment in Ormond Beach, Florida. I didn’t have my Nikon with me at the moment, but managed to get these referential shots with my trusted and handy phone.
Tibicen resonans, the Southern resonant cicada, photographed in Volusia county, Florida (30 August 2013).
I found this totally-adorbs cicada hanging out in a bush near the corner of our back patio. It was the early morning of Friday 30 August 2013. I didn’t have much time to photograph or study it, however, because I had to run on to work. So, I grabbed the camera, took a number of quick, sloppy shots, and went on my merry way. I remember heading to work and immediately thinking I should have gotten reference shots with my tape measure. Though I don’t usually post those images on Dust Tracks, I try to catch measurement reference shots for organisms I don’t already know. Though I suspected this was a Tibicen species, I wasn’t sure which species of Tibicen it was.
Now, this was a fun little paratrooper of terror. Here we have a smallish male Stagmomantis carolina, commonly known as the Carolina mantis (generically referred to as the Praying mantis). I wasn’t entirely positive of the species identification, but the good folks at bugguide.net indicated this was indeed the Carolina species and not the Florida subspecies, Stagmomantis floridensis.
Tibicen similaris, the Similar dog-day cicada, photographed in Volusia county, Florida (25 August 2013).
So, we’ve wrapped up little Alaska-in-October retrospective on Dust Tracks. There’ll be plenty more Alaska action coming later this winter, but right now it’s time to shift our gaze back to central Florida. Specifically, we’re going to catch up on some arthropod action in Volusia county, Florida. We had another heavy wave of cicada action in late August and early September, and it’s time to represent!
It’s a different kind of post! Yeah, I almost never use fancy gallery functions on the blog, but hey… I found myself curious to see how it works! Below you should see a number of various photos taken in Anchorage, Alaska during early October of 2008. Ah, Fall.
Next on Dust Tracks: More Alaska, again in October of 2008. But… with more snow!