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 ...

Springtime flowers: Gumbo Limbo

Springtime flowers: Gumbo Limbo
You know it’s spring in south Florida when your Gumbo Limbo sticks—er, trees—start to flower: You see, Gumbo Limbos are briefly deciduous—at the end of the cool part of the dry season, they drop their leaves, and for a brief while their branches are bare: Nursery people call this “leaf exchange,” and some trees do ...

Dragonflies and damselflies returning to the yard

Dragonflies and damselflies returning to the yard
After a dry beginning to March (and no rain since then, but at least the heat’s moderated a bit for the past few days), the odonates have started returning to the yard, just in time for the equinox! One or two of them run into mishaps: but by and large they are still the most ...

Sweat bees in the yard

Sweat bees in the yard
Sweat bees are fairly common. We get two kinds here in my yard, neither of which are common enough to have common names, but which I see fairly frequently: Agapostemon splendens and Halictus poeyi. The “splendid” green Agapostemon moves very quickly; a good shot of it is fairly rare. But H. poeyi is a bit ...

New backyard bug: Asian mango flower beetle

New backyard bug: Asian mango flower beetle
December has been chilly here; the longest stretch of cold nights I can remember, punctuated by lovely cool and ever-so-slightly-warm by the afternoon days. After nearly fifteen years here, I feel like I’m finally getting my money’s worth out of living in the Sunshine State. The cool weather, though, has slowed the flowering in my ...

New backyard butterfly: Great Southern White

New backyard butterfly: Great Southern White
I’ve been noticing some large, white butterflies in the front yard throughout the month of May; they’ve been a bit hard to photograph with the constant wind and their habit of flying off at top speed when I approach with a camera, so I’m digging into my photo files and showing this version from a ...

New backyard bird: Downy Woodpecker, or why native plants love birds (and vice versa)

New backyard bird: Downy Woodpecker, or why native plants love birds (and vice versa)
From time to time the native plants in my yard, which I do my best to foster, suffer from an overabundance of a certain tiny insect: scale. These insects aren’t scary to most people—they don’t bite, they don’t fly up and startle you, they don’t even move after they hunker down in their chosen spot to ...

When wasps dance 1

When wasps dance
Earlier this week I witnessed some insect behavior with which I was previously unfamiliar. (To be fair, I am unfamiliar with, to make a conservative estimate, most insect behavior.) A pair of wasps of the species Polistes major were, to put it simply, crowding each other on our deck box. Sometimes they would face each ...

Cold spells=insect close-ups

Cold spells=insect close-ups
The first few days of fall in Florida often bring cold (well, cool) fronts to the region. This year we’re already on our second or third round of long-sleeve days, so I thought this might be a good time to show off what I’ve been able to capture of the cold-slowed insect fauna. Here’s a ...

When dragonflies don’t… 2

When dragonflies don't...
fly, that is. This morning when Eric and I went outside to plant some basil (yes, November is the start of herb-growing season here in south Florida), we noticed a dragonfly on the wall of the house that wasn’t moving very much. One of its wings was at an odd angle: On closer inspection, it ...