Melanoliarus sp. Planthopper

It’s hard to tell scale in macro photography, but this planthopper was relatively huge — almost 1 cm — and was very patient while I got some gorgeous photos. Melanoliarus has about 48 species in North America, and they can only be firmly identified by looking at the genitals of the males, so Melanoliarus sp….

Brazilian leafhopper

This glorious little yellow leafhopper, with its brown and white spots, was all of 4mm long, and sitting on the leaf of a sunflower (you can just see the little hairs on the leaf’s surface in the photo), waving gently back and forth in the wind. This did not make it easy to get a…

Monarch Butterfly

Butterflies are hard to catch with my usual rig — you have to get very close and most butterflies won’t tolerate that, monarch included. This lovely female monarch (Danaus plexippus) was kind enough to let me try out my new iPhone 12 Pro Max on her — she’ll have to be my representative of an…

Fairy Inkcap

The fairy inkcap mushroom, also known as trooping crumble cap, is a small white mushroom with a long, thin, hollow stem and an almost round white cap which will eventually turn gray-brown as the fungus ages. It is a “vegetarian” fungus, and typically appears in often quite large clusters around the bases of tree stumps….

Oak Treehopper

I love treehoppers, and it was a delightful treat to find this brilliantly-colored white one with bright red eyes, orange and black stripes, and a prominent horn. The oak treehopper (Platycotis vittata) is generally about 8-9 mm long, not including the horn, which doesn’t seem to be related to the insect’s gender, and indeed may…

Crinum Lily

This dazzling white and pink lily is probably Crinum zeylanicum, but, since it was found in a human-curated area (Lake Lotus Park, Altamonte Springs, FL), it may be any one of, or a hybrid of, a number of human-cultivated variations of the basic “Crinum lily”, including C. zeylanicum (its closest equivalent, visually) or others. I…

Common Buttonbush

Native to the eastern United States, the common buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) attracts both birds and butterflies with its inch-wide, white spherical blossoms. Buttonbush is a shrub in the Rubiaceae family, often used as an ornamental plant or windbreak. It can get to be pretty large, about 8′ high and 14′ wide. (I am NOT a…

Drab Brown Wave Moth

If you squint, you can just about see the concentric lines on this moth’s wings which sort of resemble waves lapping at a sandy beach. Other “wave moths” have much more distinct waves-on-a-beach markings — it’s just my luck I found the only one that looks like cookies ‘n’ cream. The drab brown wave moth…

Yellow Fever Mosquito

Mosquitoes love me; I loathe mosquitoes. I don’t get a lot of photos of them, because if I venture out of my house I must be coated in an inch-thick layer of DEET to repel them. I try to maintain an indifferent, if not affectionate, attitude toward bothersome, scary, or venomous species, but — and…

Frogfruit

Ah, the lengths to which I have gone in order to write a post entitled “Frogfruit”. This, er, eccentrically-named plant is also called capeweed, matchweed, and turkey tangle fogfruit, probably not by the same people. It is described as “interesting foliage” by the Florida Native Plant Society. The flower has a spherical purple center (a…

Stiletto Fly

About the size of a house fly but unaccountably much longer in the abdomen, with long legs, and in color resembling a flesh fly (red eyes, black and white striped thorax, black and white striped abdomen), this is in fact a stiletto fly, Penniverpa festina. You’d think something this big would have more than a…

Spiny Orb Weaver

You can tell that a lot of people notice this brightly-colored, distinctive spider in their gardens, as it’s collected so many common names: spiny orb weaver, jewel spider, spiny-bellied orbweaver, kite spider, jewel box spider, smiley face spider, crab spider, crablike spiny orbweaver. Good heavens. The Latin name means roughly “thorn-belly” (Gasteracantha) and “crab shaped”…

Shepherd’s Needles

This small, white, daisy-like flower with white petals and a yellow center made out of smaller, yellow flowers is Bidens alba, a fast-growing wildflower also known as shepherd’s needles, beggarticks, Spanish needles or butterfly needles. Bidens means two-toothed, and describes the twin projections at the top of the plant’s thin, elongated, black, stick-to-clothing seeds. This…

Acanalonia Servillei

This charming little planthopper nymph is in the process of destroying the leaf of this succulent by sucking all the useful stuff out of the stem. As adults, Acanalonia servillei are charming little bright green wedges with a yellow dorsal stripe and red eyes; the nymphs are white, and look like they have brown eyeshadow….

Salvinia Stem-Borer

A small (1cm) white and brown mottled moth with an astonishingly close resemblance to its cousin, S. ecclesialis, the Salvinia stem-borer feeds on many types of aquatic plants, including water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) and, of course, Salvinia rotundfolia, a water fern. Since its caterpillars can do a lot of damage to those plants, even to…

Omolicna Joi

The identification here makes me nervous, since Omolicna joi was only recently discovered (2014) and the pattern on the wings on this little dude/ette really reminds me of the much more common citrus flatid planthopper, Metcalfa pruinosa. I always try to assume that I’ve found the more common/boring species, because who the hell am I…