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.

White twinevine (Sarcostemma clausum) by Bob Peterson (CC BY 2.0)

Flower Friday: White twinevine

White twinevine is an evergreen twining vine with large clusters of fragrant flowers. It is a larval host plant for Monarch, Queen and Soldier butterflies and an important nectar source for bees and wasps. Flowers typically bloom in summer and fall, but may bloom throughout the year. The plant occurs naturally in swamps, moist hammocks, coastal strands and wetland edges.

Milkweed is critical food for Monarch larva. Photo by John Flannery

Monarchs and Milkweed

Milkweed is critical food for Monarch larva. Photo by John Flannery View as a PDF The Monarch butterfly is in peril Throughout Florida and the United States, habitat loss, the wide use of herbicides and genetically modified crops, and frequent roadside mowing have decreased milkweeds (Asclepias species), the Monarch’s host plant. As a result, the…