Category Archives: Florida insects

What’s blooming on Womack Creek?

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False foxglove.

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Snow squarestem.

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Swamp azalea — premature or way late in blooming. This is the first time we’ve seen this azalea off the Ochlockonee River, leading to the creek.

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Marsh tickseed — a favorite of insects.

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Swamp leatherflower, clematis crispa. You’ll see thorny-like balls of seeds on these vines also.

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Just starting to bloom, climbing aster. In a few weeks there will be masses of blooms on the creek.

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Common sneezeweed. Just a few still blooming; most are in seed.

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Green fly orchids. One of our favorite plants on the creek — these seem to bloom continuously.

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Water hemlock. A blooming aberration — most have bloomed months ago. Water hemlock is a very poisonous plant and affects the nervous system of mammals which ingest it, killing them within minutes.

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Pickerel weed. Another favorite of butterflies, bees and wasps.

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Not sure that this technically can be called a flower, but it’s the second dodder plant we’ve seen on Womack creek since last year.

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To end with a flash of red — a color (with green) of the end of the year, cardinal flower. We have stands of lushly blooming cardinal flowers almost everywhere we have paddled in north Florida.

It’s fall, it’s hot and the insects love it!

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Lubber grasshopper will either fascinate you or repel you. They are big and they are voracious. We’ve seen them at Nick’s campsite off Womack Creek. This one was at the Womack Creek landing. Fortunately, the only one we saw.

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Ringed paper wasp, swarms of them, may come upon you if your paddle hits the branch.

When I was young, my dad tried raising bees. I was fascinated by these creatures although I did not like honey. To his credit, although he used a smoker and a veil, he showed me how to act among bees and wasps: do not make abrupt moves, progress slowly as though you are part of the scene, if bees come near you stop and remain still, if they alight on you, let them be — be patient, they will fly away. Do not be afraid of them (that was before I found out that some people are highly allergic to insect stings) — they are doing just what they need to do to protect themselves. Nevertheless, I still carry a snack bag of baking soda which works wonders as a poultice to put over an insect bite.

On Womack creek there were about 4 of these paper wasp nests.

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This time of year, as winter should be soon upon us, it’s unusual to fine insect larvae of insects which life cycle is a year. This one may be able to form a chrysalis before the cold. Still unidentified. It’s on alligator weed, a plant which is invasive. We did not remove it when we first saw it in spring of 2018 and regret not doing so. That single stand has propagated itself throughout the creek and almost impossible to remove (with a kayak) because of it’s weight and mass.

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Here’s what we think is the larvae of the alligatorweed flea beetle. The alligator weed flea beetle has a short life span. This was removed from an case of leaves, still not ready to be on its own. The spotted areas of the leaves indicate the eating pattern of the flea beetle.

The mats of the alligator weed on Womack Creek indicated that the leaves had been consumed during the summer and new leaves are reappearing. Also reappearing are the larval cases of this flea beetle.

And everywhere we see the work of the alligator flea beetle, we also see spiders of the Tetragnatha genus. They lay their eggs on the tips of the alligator leaves or in folds of lower leaves and with their silk form an envelope to protect the eggs. In some of these cottony folds, when unfurled, either a spider or eggs or both may appear. I was not able to get a photo to either in Tate’s Hell, but spiders are very active now on Womack Creek. It’s not unusual in the fall to have a cockpit full of small spiders which have fallen from branches one paddles under.

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Photograph above is of a 6 spotted fish spider.

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Here’s another spider sack on a button bush, species not known.

We watched with fascination as this female Carolina preying mantis slowly deposited her eggs in a case.

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The woods, swamps and waterways of Tate’s Hell are a whirlwind of activity as its creatures prepare for the winter.

RED ALERT ON WOMACK CREEK, IF YOU’RE AN ALDER SHRUB!

Pretty. Beetles can be beautiful.

And predacious.

Ask a few alder shrubs on Womack Creek which are losing their leaves to adult and larval alder beetles.

These grub with impunity, so it was not difficult to get photos of the adult, larva and pupa of the insects.

They love vegetables!

Until they’re pupated.

Had it not been for a recent curator added to the inaturalist.org experts, I might never had this identified. There is very little written about this species, although it apparently is a North American native.

If it contuinues its march along creeks and streams, eating alder leaves, it will soon be noticed.

Massed blooms: lavender and white on Womack Creek – May 11, 2018

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This is a great year for swamp dragon head.   They are now blooming everywhere there is sunshine:  on dead tree falls with soil, in the back swamps beyond the trees, in sunny patches along the creek.

In huge masses, they diminish the swamp roses.   But those more demure blooms have a greater over reach  — you can smell their cinnamon-sweet smell before you see them. Here, surrounded by narrow leaf primrose.

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Butterflies and bees are attracted to the nectar of the swamp dragon head.

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Soon, the arrow head blossoms will be in full bloom — they are heavily in bud throughout the creek.

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In other areas, with its strong sweet scent, the sweet bays are blooming.

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It’s summer and the critters are moving, May 11, 2018 …

Juveniles — teenagers — have a lot to learn.  They are more curious than cautious, but in that, for humans, is hope — perhaps a new way to see things around us.  For critters, however, without an overarching adult watching, growing to adulthood is risky.  Alligator, raccoons, cooters and now, this yellow crowned night heron.

Whatever it was doing when Ed came upon it, it diverted its attention to what was more interesting — us.  As it went from muddy shoreline to a short step up a branch to a flight up to a higher branch, it’s eyes were upon us.  But it did not fly away.

It’s attention span was longer than our over 15 minutes.  We paddled away as it continued to watch from its perch.

Meanwhile on the shore, a juvenile raccoon we had seen in January with its mother and siblings was foraging for a late breakfast,  a little after 10am.   Then, the mother had given her brood a sharp warning sound, which none of them heeded.   She herself headed into the brush, they stayed foraging in the mud for crayfish and other goodies.  Now, this one is on it’s own.

Again…our interest span was shorter that this raccoon. It continued to forage;  we paddled upstream. 

The non-venomous water snakes on the creek seem to be a lethargic group — they take their positions and stay there.  Adults or juvenile, it doesn’t seem to matter.  But this juvenile, after extending its forebody a bit, didn’t move.

And then the caterpillars.  Of what species I don’t know.  They were too busy eating the leaves of both the cow creek spider lily and the swamp dragon’s head to take heed of anything.

It’s a busy time on the creek and the young ones are doing what they need to be doing to continue their species.