• Blolly (Guapira discolor) in fruit. Boca Raton, FL, August 21, 2015

    My baby blolly, after four years: boy or girl?

    By / August 27, 2015

    Four and a half years ago we moved into a new house. This involved a lot of new things: first, and most importantly, of course, a new baby boy. Happy, shiny day. Also, relatively easy to determine the sex (baby humans have dangly bits). Baby plants, though, don’t have such obvious markers of sex. For… Read more

  • Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae) caterpillar on host plant, Senna mexicana.

    Senna and sulphurs

    By / August 21, 2015

    This spring I overhauled the front part of the front yard, getting rid of some scraggly dune sunflower and replacing it with some more long-lived plants. (Not that dune sunflower is bad or short-lived, but I have it in many other areas of the yard as well, and it needs frequent cutting back to keep… Read more

  • Tabebuia aurea flowering for a second time this year. June 28, 2015. Boca Raton, FL.

    Tabebuias flower more than once

    By / June 28, 2015

    After over four years in our “new” house I’m still learning things. This morning I noticed that our Tabebuia tree out front is flowering for a second time this year. It had a reasonably good flowering season back in April, and here it is at the end of June: I hadn’t seen that before. Who… Read more

  • 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

  • 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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