silverspotted_skipper-Keim

Know your native pollinators: Silver-spotted skipper

You might find one of these creatures hanging upside-down, but it’s not a bat (or a vampire). It’s a Silver-spotted skipper!

The Silver-spotted skipper is one of the largest, most widespread and recognizable skippers. It has a quick jerky flight that is typical of skippers. This type of butterfly is common and can be found from northern Mexico to southern Canada, as well as most of the continental United States.You can find Silver-spotted skippers throughout Florida. These butterflies enjoy a disturbed habitat, open woods, foothills, stream sides, prairie waterways, edges of forests, swamps, brushy areas and other open areas with nectar plants.

Carolina milkweed (Asclepias cinerea)

Flower Friday: Carolina milkweed

With its narrow leaves and fine stems, Carolina milkweed (Asclepias cinerea) can get lost among the wiregrass with which it typically grows. But its splendidly stellar blooms will stop you in your tracks. You’ll find it flowering in summer in sandhills, pine flatwoods and bogs throughout the Panhandle and North Florida. Like all members of the Asclepias genus, Carolina milkweed is a larval host plant for Monarch and Queen butterflies. Its flowers are an important nectar source for bees and wasps.

Warea_amplexifolia-Keim

Sept. 7 Warea Tract Service Day

Join us on our Sept. 7 service project as we visit and help protect Seminole State Forest’s Warea Tract. We will be removing invasive Natal grass and learning about the importance of the tract from Forester Mike Martin. The Warea Tract holds many threatened and endangered species we may have the opportunity to see, including Florida bonamia (Bonamia grandiflora), Lewton’s polygala (Polygala lewtonii), Sweet-scented pigeonwings (Clitoria fragrans), Scrub plum (prunus geniculata) and Scrub buckwheat (Eriogonum longifolium var. gnaphalifolium).

Know your native pollinators: Gulf fritillary

The Gulf fritillary is sometimes known as the Passion butterfly — so named because of its ardor for Passionflower. You will find so much to love about this unique pollinator!

Gulf fritillaries are medium-sized butterflies with elongated forewings that live in the extreme southern United States. Outside of the U.S., they are a broad-ranging species, found throughout Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and into South America.Gulf fritillaries enjoy a variety of habitat including sunny roadsides, disturbed areas, edges, fields, pastures, woodlands, second-growth semitropical forests and urban areas like parks and yards. You may even find them blithely floating around your butterfly garden.

 

Florida milkvine (Matelea floridana) by Eleanor Dietrich

Flower Friday: Florida milkvine

Also known as Florida spiny pod, Florida milkvine (Matelea floridana) is a deciduous twining vine that occurs naturally in sandhills, woodlands and other open habitats. Its small flowers bloom in late spring and summer. They are pollinated mostly by beetles. The plant is a larval host for Monarch, Queen and Soldier butterflies and is a state-listed endangered species.

Monarch caterpillar by Liz Schold

Milkweed workday at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Ranger Scott Davis has been working on the milkweed restoration initiative since 2015, when he started with a single greenhouse table of seedlings. Since then he has been scouring the state for native milkweed populations and bringing seeds back to the refuge to propagate. He estimates that 300,000 plants have been grown there, which have been planted as part of restoration projects at state parks, state forests and national wildlife refuges across the state. It is no easy task to grow these plants, either.

Gabriel_Campbell-Martinez

Student spotlight: Gabriel Campbell-Martinez

Gabriel Campbell-Martinez is a graduate research assistant at the UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center in Milton, Florida, and the 2019 recipient of a graduate assistantship from the Gary Henry Endowment for the Study of Florida Native Wildflowers. The Florida Wildflower Foundation established the endowment to provide scholarships for graduate students studying wildflowers within the University of Florida’s Plant Restoration and Conservation Horticulture Consortium of the Department of Environmental Horticulture.

Satyrium favonius

Know your native pollinators: Oak hairstreak butterfly

You might not see very much of the Oak hairstreak butterfly, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t around. They are usually just hanging out in the trees above your head!

Oak hairstreak butterflies prefer the tree canopies of oak woodlands, wooded coastal areas, and oak hammocks. You can find them throughout much of the eastern United States, stretching as far west as New Mexico. They can be identified by the two tails on each hindwing, and have greyish-brown undersides with a blue tail-spot and orange coloring above.

Night-blooming petunia (Ruellia noctiflora) by Scott Davis

Saving Roadside Plants Works!

When Scott Davis found a large population of the state-listed endangered Night-blooming petunia (Ruellia noctiflora) growing along US 98, he asked the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to declare it a protected wildflower area. FDOT did. When the construction of the bike trail between Crawfordville and St. Marks was slated to roll right over the plants, Scott planned a rescue operation.

Queen butterflies on Aquatic milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) by Mary Keim

Field trip to Tosohatchee WMA

Join us as we explore the Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area with local naturalists Mary Keim and Randy Snyder. We will meet in the parking lot just past the pay station. From there, we will caravan along Powerline Road and Fish Hole Road, making several stops to take in the wildflowers, butterflies, birds and beautiful scenery.