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Anax junius, the Common green darner, in Flagler county, Florida; 10 April 2014

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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.

Continue reading Anax junius, the Common green darner, in Flagler county, Florida; 10 April 2014

Spodoptera dolichos, the Sweetpotato armyworm moth, in Ormond Beach, Florida; 23 March 2014

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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!

Continue reading Spodoptera dolichos, the Sweetpotato armyworm moth, in Ormond Beach, Florida; 23 March 2014

Camponotus castaneus, the Reddish carpenter ant, in Ormond Beach, Florida; 16 March 2014

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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.

Continue reading Camponotus castaneus, the Reddish carpenter ant, in Ormond Beach, Florida; 16 March 2014

30-Year-Old-Janson Would’ve Totally Caught This Snake

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Coluber constrictor priapus, the Southern black racer, photographed in Volusia county, Florida (06 April 2014).

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.

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The Florida Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus conanti) in Heart Island Conservation Area, Florida; 06 April 2014

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Agkistrodon piscivorus conanti, the Florida cottonmouth, photographed in Volusia county, Florida (06 April 2014).

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!)

Continue reading The Florida Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus conanti) in Heart Island Conservation Area, Florida; 06 April 2014

Garter Snake Blue in Flagler county, Florida! 02 April 2014

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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!

Continue reading Garter Snake Blue in Flagler county, Florida! 02 April 2014

Diadophis punctatus punctatus, the Southern Ringneck Snake, in Mount Dora, Florida; 29 March 2014

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Diadophis punctatus punctatus, the Southern ringneck snake, photographed in Lake county, Florida (29 March 2014).

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.

Continue reading Diadophis punctatus punctatus, the Southern Ringneck Snake, in Mount Dora, Florida; 29 March 2014