Join the Florida Wildflower Foundation on Dec. 8 for a fun, family-friendly day in the forest. Forest Service biologist Jay Garcia will introduce us to the Ocala National Forest. Learn how the scrub habitat is being managed and restored. Find out why the Forest Service is allowing people to cut down trees and how it fits into their management plan. Then we’ll caravan to the Christmas tree cutting site, where everyone with a permit will have the opportunity to pick out and cut down their very own fresh-from-Florida sand pine.
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With over 1,300 species in North America alone, Tachinid flies are an extremely diverse group, yet they are often overlooked. Once you spot one, however, you’re likely to start recognizing them everywhere. Keep your eyes peeled on both flowers and foliage for these hairy pollinators. Tachinid fly larvae are known parasitoids of many nuisance bugs. How they enter their hosts varies, but once inside, all tachinid larvae begin to consume their host internally. This may sound like a Halloween horror story, but Tachinid larvae are great at keeping garden pests in check.
The redesigned State Wildflower license plate, now available at county tax collector’s offices, sports a butterfly with two species of Coreopsis, Florida’s official wildflower. Having the fluttering insect as a key part of the new design helps raise awareness of beleaguered pollinators while illustrating the critical link between them and their vanishing wild habitats.
Join us on Nov. 18 as we visit the UCF Arboretum. Learn about its history as well as the challenges it faces as a natural area surrounded by development. Take a leisurely hike through the Arboretum’s several habitats in search of some of the endemic, endangered and threatened species that call the Arboretum home.
Goldenrod soldier beetles (Chauliognathus pensylvanicus) are pollinators and predators of pesky garden pests. They are found throughout Florida and most of the United States. Their populations peak in late summer and early fall, perfectly timed with the bloom of goldenrod. These common beetles prefer sunny spots with rich nectar sources, such as gardens, fields and roadsides.