Here there be dragons

Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis) enjoying a repast of Blue Dasher (

Wow, a record for me. Three days in a row at the Yamato Scrub! My older son, Eric, surprised me midmorning on Labor Day by suggesting that we go to Yamato Scrub. I seized on the suggestion, and off we went. I brought snacks and a drink to keep him occupied, and it worked! I was able to install him on a bench with a good view of the pond while I wandered off to take a few more pictures of the insect life around the wetlands, and found some new (to me) creatures and behaviors. It wasn’t long before […]

Damsels in Distress

Rambur's Forktail (Ischnura ramburii) and breakfast. Yamato Scrub, August 31, 2014.

You may remember that I volunteer with the Palm Beach County Department of Environmental Resource Management from time to time, helping them clean up and maintain the natural areas here in Boca Raton. Last weekend there was a work party at Yamato Scrub, and we were there for sunrise, coffee, donuts, muffins, and—oh, yeah—work. We trundled wheelbarrows full of sand from the sand mound to a few areas of sidewalk between the two recreated wetlands on the site. There’s a sand berm between the northern pond (the deep one) and the southern wetland (much larger and shallower). When the rains […]

Preemptive strike

Last year I ran across a pair of walking sticks (Anisomorpha buprestoides) during an afternoon stroll at Yamato Scrub. They were in such a visually striking pose that I had to stop and take a picture, and then read what I could find about them on the web. And it made for some interesting reading.

Since then, though, I’ve been doing more reading, and at a more leisurely pace. One of my favorite reads came from the shelves of the Broward county library: Thomas Eisner’s For Love of Insects, which I checked out over the summer and promptly […]

Opus, opuntia, opunt

Opuntia cacti are a successful and widespread family in the group Cactaceae, but they are not all that well understood. My first introduction to the group was as a child, when I blundered into one of them on one of those weekend fishing trips in Colorado that we took quite frequently in my salad days. I’m sure you can guess the results: bloody socks, screams of bloody murder, and plenty of tears. And I’ll bet that, at that tender age, I would have had no compunction about unleashing any sort of revenge on these plants, up to and including biological […]

What’s in a name?

Really, I’m asking. What is in a name? Tarflower is a beautiful plant of Florida’s scrub and pine flatland areas. It’s a large wildflower or good-sized shrub in the Ericaceae, or heath, family. The flower is distinctive, with its 7 pinkish white petals, completely free (i.e., not joined together), arrayed around those central pistils. The common name gives a good idea of its strategy to deter nectar snatchers (ants, houseflies, etc., who might be tempted to take its nectar without “paying” for it–that is, without performing the pollination services for which plants evolved their nectar-facilitated reproductive strategy): it traps freeloaders […]

When at the scrub, no need to bring your walking stick…

They have them there for you already!

#gallery-1 { margin: auto; } #gallery-1 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 33%; } #gallery-1 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-1 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } Anisomorpha buprestoides Anisomorpha buprestoides […]

Why Yamato Scrub? Why not?

We went to Yamato Scrub a couple of times this weekend; once very early on Saturday morning, and once again around sunset on Sunday. I just love the early morning light. Over the last year, this site really has become one of our favorite places to visit. Our first visit was back in November 2007, shortly after the place opened to the public. (Actually, all ERM lands are open to the public from dawn to dusk; it’s just that the trails and parking facilities had a grand opening back in the fall of 2007, and that’s what caught our attention […]

Scrubbing, part two

As the morning wore on, the work crew wore out. The sun rose higher, the temperature followed suit, and the little pick-me-up afforded by the popsicles and other treats wore off. Good thing for this tired man that his family was standing ready to pick him up. As he returned to the truck, he phoned home to set the wheels in motion.



The summer sun in Florida is brutally hot. It’s almost directly overhead, and the protection supposedly afforded by Earth’s atmosphere seems marginal at best. Those who live only a short distance from the beach can look forward to the cooling effect of the sea breeze, but for those of us who are farther inland,