One of our state’s most iconic creatures is the alligator. This ancient species is estimated to have existed on the planet for 150-230 million years! That means they lived with the dinosaurs.
Growing in containers or very small garden plots is a good way to try out gardening with just a little commitment, or to nourish an existing love of growing things if you only have a small space available. Place containers with your favorite veggies and herbs right outside the door or on the patio and you are gardening!
Florida has some wildlife species that only live here, and one of them is the Florida scrub jay.
Taking a walk in the woods, around the neighborhood, or even in your yard, you might see two very similar vines: Virginia creeper and poison ivy. They look alike, often grow together and are often confused. Knowing how to positively identify these two vines can come in very handy.
Florida is blessed with five types of owls: the barred or swamp owl, the great-horned owl, the white-faced barn owl, the tiny screech owl and the distinctive burrowing owl. While each is special in its own way, the burrowing owl is distinctive in that it is a bird that lives underground! In Florida, they may be found in the central and southern parts of the peninsula and grow to a little under 10 inches in height. With long legs adapted to life on the ground, they eat mice, moles and insects such as termites and grasshoppers, and prefer prairies or pastures in which to live
Wonderful pictures of a newly emerged giant silk moth called Polyphemus, Antheraea polyphemus, were recently shared with me. Hanging with its wings folded, the moth’s size and antennae are noticeable features. Its wingspan is 4-6 inches and the comb-like antennae are sensitive to smell, useful for finding food or mates, and possibly navigation. Polyphemus has eye spots on all 4 wings, with two distinctive spots said to mimic the eyes of a larger animal – maybe even a Great Horned Owl. That should be enough to scare off a host of predators!
Our gray fox is a member of the canine, or dog family, but acts like a cat! It weighs about as much as a house cat, 7-13 pounds, and hunts its prey by stalking just like our feline tabbies and kitties do. Gray foxes eat rodents, reptiles and even berries and fruit.
This spring, as we continue social distancing and staying at home as much as possible, many people are writing about the pleasure they’re finding in gardening. Some are life-long gardeners, others are finding connection to nature in planting seeds for the first time.
Our wonderful native Florida black bear is a smaller version of the much more common Eastern black bear. Generally shy and reclusive unless protecting cubs, it has good eyesight up close and possibly the best sense of smell of all native animals.
As we try to stay safe at home, many families are looking for interesting and educational activities for kids. Even on days when we can get out to walk or play close to home there are still hours spent inside.