• Dainty Sulphur (Nathalis iole) nectaring on Spanish Needles. Boca Raton, FL, May 10, 2015.

    Depth of field redux

    By / May 25, 2015

    A couple of years ago as I was just starting out in macro photography I experimented a little bit with depth of field using a beautiful male Citrine Forktail damselfly. Since then I’ve switched to a new macro lens and taken a lot more photos, but not much has changed. I still love how depth of… Read more

  • Cheesy-toes (Stylosantha hamata) providing a nectar meal for a Dainty Sulphur butterfly (Nathalis iole). Boca Raton, FL, May 7, 2015.

    Diverse lawns in south Florida

    By / May 22, 2015

    Earlier this spring I started reading yet another book on gardening in south Florida. This one, by James Kushlan, with photos by Kirsten Hines, is called Attracting Birds to South Florida Gardens. It came out last fall from the University Press of Florida. I didn’t order it at first, because I already have tons of… Read more

  • Detail of caterpillar removal.

    Fiddlewood flowers and true garden pests

    By / May 21, 2015

    Gardeners who plan their gardens for wildlife often see that planning rewarded. The thing is, it’s sometimes hard to tell whether that reward is, as the computer programmers say, a feature or a bug.  That is, we plant the plants we do because we’re interested in more than just the way the garden looks to us; we… Read more

  • Pink Purslane (Portulaca pilosa. Boca Raton, FL, May 14, 2015.

    New backyard plant: Portulaca pilosa

    By / May 20, 2015

    I didn’t plant this pretty little weed, known variously as pink purslane, kiss-me-quick, or pigweed, but I’m glad to see it volunteering in my yard. Pink Purslane, known to horticulturists as Portulaca pilosa, is a low-growing plant with succulent leaves (succulent in both the technical and culinary senses) and pretty little pink flowers (although if you plan… Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae). Boca Raton, FL, May 8, 2015.

    Gulf Fritillary

    By / May 19, 2015

    The Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) is one of the most common butterflies in my backyard, and it’s one of the most impressive as well. Large and brightly colored, it’s attracted to the nectar provided by the abundant flowers of the butterfly sage (Cordia globosa) that I have growing in several places, as well as to… Read more

  • Megachilid bee, subgenus Chelostomoides. Boca Raton, FL, May 13, 2015.

    New backyard insect: Megachilid bee sp., subgenus Chelostomoides

    By / May 13, 2015

    Being a backyard naturalist has its ups and downs. It’s fun to get to know your little corner of the earth well enough to know when something new (to you, if not to science) appears there. Lately I’ve been noticing how many different species of bees there are. Of course the most common bee in… Read more

  • Thomisid spider waiting for breakfast. Boca Raton, FL, May 8, 2015.

    Step into my parlor…

    By / May 8, 2015

    …said the spider to the lady beetle. And yet, nothing happened. This morning before work I went out and, as usual, was taking pictures of whatever I could find in the yard. I found this lovely Southern Sprite damselfly (first of the season): It’s always a pleasure to see these relatively rare damselflies. (Odd, too, how abundance is… Read more

  • Sweat bee, Agapostemon splendens, Boca Raton, FL, May 1, 2015.

    Sweat Bees, or, spring is happening…

    By / May 1, 2015

    …and the bees are buzzing with excitement. I was out in the yard at lunchtime, as usual, and I noticed more than the usual activity around the flowerbeds in front. There were these little yellow blurs zipping from flower to flower in the Gaillardia. These are among the prettiest flowers in south Florida, although I… Read more

  • Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonia). Boca Raton, FL, April 30. 2015.

    Zebra heliconian

    By / April 30, 2015

    Some days, you just get lucky. This Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonia) just sat patiently on a leaf letting me snap pictures as I walked closer and closer.

  • Dainty Sulphur butterfly (Nathalis iole). Boca Raton, FL, April 27, 2015.

    New backyard butterfly: Dainty Sulphur

    By / April 27, 2015

    April’s showers have brought an explosion of new insect life to the garden. This morning I went out to check on the new plantings (record heat yesterday had made me concerned despite the relatively frequent recent rains) and discovered at least a half dozen Halloween Pennant dragonflies: Three or four little blue dragonlets (yes, this… Read more

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