Diverse lawns in south Florida

Diverse lawns in south Florida
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 ...

New backyard insect: Megachilid bee sp., subgenus Chelostomoides

New backyard insect: Megachilid bee sp., subgenus Chelostomoides
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 ...

Step into my parlor…

Step into my parlor...
…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 ...

Sweat Bees, or, spring is happening…

Sweat Bees, or, spring is happening...
…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 ...

Zebra heliconian

Zebra heliconian
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.

New backyard butterfly: Dainty Sulphur

New backyard butterfly: Dainty Sulphur
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 ...

Damselfeast 2015

Damselfeast 2015
The Rambur’s Forktail damselfly (Ischnura hastata) is one of the more widespread and common damselflies in my area, and across the southern part of the country, really. Its range even extends into Hawaii, according to the sightings map from Odonata Central: There are a couple of reasons this damselfly has such an extensive range. One ...

Guess who?

Guess who?
One of the most common yard birds in south Florida is nesting in my crabwood tree out back. Can you guess whose eggs these are?

Just in time for Fly-day

Just in time for Fly-day
A few flies I’ve seen this spring. A common hover fly, Toxomerus geminatus: A less common drone fly, Eristalinus taeniops: A common (in my garden) syrphid fly, Palpada vinetorum: None of these flies would find my yard at all attractive without the flowers that grow in it. And I would probably find my yard a ...

New backyard plant: Willow Bustic

New backyard plant: Willow Bustic
On the first day of spring 2015 (that was March 20 for those of you who still aren’t keeping track of the seasons and astronomical events) I planted a new tree in the side yard out front: a Willow Bustic, Sideroxylon salicifolium. (Although take that taxonomic name with a grain of salt; apparently the tree is ...