There are a few stragglers from the early spring flowering trees. See the previous post on Spring tree blossoms. We now have a new collection of flowering trees that have captured my attention because of their spectacular blooms. These trees are not seen by the seasonally migrating residents nor by the tourists because they have returned home to their residences in the northern States. These are the next group of trees preparing for the new summer season.
I have included five flowering trees present along the streets of the city of Naples. It is difficult to express the overwhelming verdant, colorful canopies stretched over the avenues. A later post will specialize on plumeria varieties.
The cover image is a sample of a Southern Magnolia showing the leaf, bud, blossom and seed pod.
There is a constant change in tree blooms throughout the year here in SWFL. The beauty and adventure of discovery adds delight in the journey. This is the third in a continuing series of blooming trees. All of these are located on the Everglades Ark Epicollect5 data base.
Thanks for your interest. I hope that you enjoy the trip through my eyes. Look for the Plumeria show in a post that is still to come. “Like” if you like it. Comment as you wish.
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Plant paracites are inevitable in the garden and may result in leaf damage and defoliation of the plant. In the past I used chemical agents such as Chlordane, DDT and Sevin. Subsequently I have seen the light and use much less toxic agents such as soap. The active ingredients are potassium salts of fatty acids also known as soap salts. This solution is not toxic to the plant and breaks down without leaving toxic residue in the soil. The soap works only when wet and loses its effectiveness after it dries. Plant watering washes away most of the residual soap. As you will see it is effective in controlling soft bodied insects and pests like these mealybugs. Mealybugs are insects of the Pseudococcidae family.
How to make soap insecticide for insect control at home:
Make your own solution at home. Purchase a bar of unscented lye soap. (About $3.50) Grate about one third of the bar and add it to about double the volume of hot water. Gently stir until dissolved as much as possible. This makes 12 oz (1200 ml) of saturated solution. Don’t be surprised if it doesn’t all dissolve. Place this into a storage container with a cover for further dilution down to 1 to 2% solution. For application use an 8 oz (700 ml) hand held spray bottle fill it nearly full of water and add a teaspoon (5 ml) of the saturated soap solution. Spray the plant on all sides with the diluted soap solution once per week or as needed. Repeat once per month for maintenance. Replace equal volume of tap water into the concentrated solution as it is deleted until any undissolved soap disappears. Remake the concentrated solution when the supply is exhausted. Depending on the amount used, this supply of solution from one bar may take years to deplete. There are numerous home recipes on the internet but the main ingredient is soap.
Before treatment look to see if the problem is the result of a soft bodied pest. I use the microscope. You can use a magnifying glass. This observation is made because the soap will do nothing against bacterial, fungal, viral or other parasites. The first line of defense may be to hand remove the pest. Trimming a leaf with early signs is easy. When hand removal is not possible then other agents may be used. Horticultural soaps also known as biorational pesticides can be used. These include horticultural oil and insecticidal soap sprays. Biorational insecticides are typically used to target soft-bodied pests like caterpillars, mealybugs, whiteflies, spider mites or aphids. They provide a relatively non-toxic alternative to conventional insecticides, with few ecological side effects.They can be used on indoor and outdoor plants, including vegetables. Before eating be sure to wash your produce. There are commercially available plant-derived insecticides like neem oil and pyrethrum, and microbial pesticides like Bt. Even with commercial agents, repeat applications may be necessary to get the best results. Obviously I can check the leaves with microscopic observation to see the efficacy of the application. Again, you can use a simple magnifying lens. Be attentive to the weather conditions and the time of year. Cold will also act to control these insects.
The featured images illustrate only one portion of the great complexity in the organization of bird orders. A problem arose when searching for an acceptable naming system that would be meaningful and easy to use. Classically there are thousands of bird varieties with more than 40 orders. This is obviously not going to work for citizen scientists unless they are essentially ornithologists. Alternatively, I selected a new method of ordering birds. Naming of the birds is built on bird “clades” * . This method is based on Avian DNA and evolutionary periods. It covers almost all of the post Cretaceous epoch until today.
For management of the Everglades Ark database I needed to call birds by names to distinguish one from another. I searched the internet resources for a simplified method of naming the birds without individualizing each animal. I decided that this could be done in a two-step fashion. Step one is field observation where a reduced drop down list could be used for organized sorting. The second stage is to enter the common name and scientific name after the field observation.
There is a continuing discussion regarding the classification of birds and which order belongs in which clade. Despite these discussions the organization is sufficient for our purposes. On the Everglades Ark Epicollec5 site the new list of avian clades puts most orders into five major clades listed here:
Strisores — nighthawk, frogmouths, diurnal swifts, hummingbirds other nocturnal birds
Inopinaves — all landbirds and songbirds, including raptors, hawks, owls, toucans, falcons, parrots.
This is based on the following scheme published in Science News:
This illustration shows the organization of the bird orders and their partitioning into subgroups called clades. The illustration continues from Fig 1 lower left to Fig 2 upper right.
Phylogeny of birds:
“The five major, successive, neoavian sister clades are: Strisores (brown), Columbaves (purple), Gruiformes (yellow), Aequorlitornithes (blue), and Inopinaves (green). Background colors mark geological periods. Ma – million years ago; Ple – Pleistocene; Pli – Pliocene; Q. – Quaternary. Clade numbers refer to the plot of estimated divergence dates. Illustrations of representative bird species are depicted by their lineages.” **
It is easy to see that the “green” Inopinaves have the largest number of orders mostly from the Quaternary period. The “blue” Aequorlitornithes has the second largest number of orders and they are from the Pliocene period. I expect that the greatest number of observations will be these two clades.
Because of the DNA portions that each clade share I can speculate that related clades will suffer from virus diseases that attach to the similar DNA and RNA sites. I will surveil the literature over time to see if there are corresponding connections.
GO BLUE! Maybe the UoM should have the armadillo as the school mascot (Defense! Defense!) I couldn’t help myself.
Easier to observe in the back yard than in the zoo, Armadillo are mammals of the order Cingulata where as ant eaters and sloth are from the order Pilosa. Both are somewhat related in classification and are grouped together in the magnorder, Xenarthra. Without careful understanding of the anatomy the distinction can be seen only by dissection. “The lumbar vertebrae are xenarthrous; that is, they have extra contacts (joints, or arthroses) that function to strengthen the lower back and hips.”1 This facilitates the use of the forelegs for digging. The distinction can be seen in their behavior where the primary method used by anteaters and armadillos to obtain food is by digging for insects and roots. I made the distinction in the Everglades Ark Epicollect5 database to make observation data collection in Africa easier.
Armadillos have a really bizarre reproductive metabolism.2 They exhibit “obligate monozygotic polyembryony” where each fertilized egg will divide into quarters to produce four separate embryos thereby giving birth to litters of four genetically identical young. Additionally their ovulation period can be varied depending on available food resources. The fertilized egg may stay in the uterus for about 14 weeks before implantation into the wall for the four month gestation period.
These animals were really clever in their defensive behaviors. They have “armor plated” skin on the outside of their bodies, they have a low metabolic rate and body temperature, Among their defensive behaviors they can curl into a ball shape, climb, swim and jump. They are omnivorous and nocturnal. Although they are not indigenous to Florida they are considered native to the Americas. They are not an endangered species.
You might recall another animal with similar behaviors. Check out Gopher tortoise in the Everglades Ark.
Wouldn’t It be interesting to see ant eaters in the back yard ?
Caution: Armadillos dig holes and eat ground dwelling bird and reptile eggs. Try not to pick them up.
Giraffes are so unusual. They are big with extraordinarily long necks and legs and their coloration is vividly variegated. it is hard to imagine that they are camouflaged in the wilderness. They are one of my favorite animals.
Zoo encounters are interesting reminders of the real world beyond the confines of our daily lives. Nothing in a zoo, however, compares to the sight, sounds, smells and surroundings of animals in the wild. I highly recommend the experience of seeing the wild surroundings of our remarkable resource of four million acres of the wilderness of the Everglades National Park and associated state parks around us. Everglades Ark is my attempt to bring the wonders of it to you. Later this year I will be in Africa to observe and photograph the sanctuaries of the Okavango Delta in Botswana and the Maasai Mara in Kenya. I hope that you will see many examples of how this sample of Africa compares to our wilderness in SWFL.
Zoos which have value depend on money and leadership:
Zoos and nature reserves have several agendas which are not necessarily well understood and not always well directed. Superficially these nature reserve areas are entertainment to the public for a price. The public is invited to see and in some instances interact with the captive animals. It is almost like a circus. They also have another agenda which is to preserve some of the animal species in a protected environment. The price paid to see and interact with the animals is the welfare of the animals and the admission for the public to enter. Zoos are very expensive to operate in numerous ways. The two biggest costs are protection and preservation of the animals and protection of the public. I have looked at the literature regarding the effectiveness of the missions of zoos. The information is sparse and scientific studies are few and not well documented. A small number of zoos are well endowed and have the opportunity to facilitate breeding in captivity, promotion of species survival in the wild, and provide research into physiology and pathology that effects both the wild animal populations as well as humans.
Here is your citizen naturalist participation assignment: Go out and enjoy the wild world around us.
Feel free to participation in a discussion regarding the topics in the comment box below.
The Everglades Ark data base site at Epicollect5 needed an update of its classification of mammals under the listing of Animals. Here is the new listing as extracted from a variety of web available references. This is intended to simplify the gathering of information by reducing the need for enumeration of in-field choices while still providing an orderly database look-up. This will be especially helpful when comparing observations from diverse ecosystems including Florida, Sub-Saharan Africa, Central and South America, the Middle East, and other areas of the USA. The animals are listed by order with examples. This is not intended to be encyclopedic. It does, however, provide space for the observer to enter notes or comments such as genus and species. The example, order or both of the animal can be listed.
Is this next mammal the same order as the animal shown above?
Mammal Classification by Order
marsupial – kangaroo, opossum
armadillo, sloth, anteater
seal, bear, wolf, badger
dolphin and whale
even-toed ungulate: goat, hippo, giraffe
moles and shrew
odd-toed ungulate: horse, rhino, tapir
Expanded but simplified categorization of Mammals
Answer to the above question: it is a Perissoxactyla (tapir) lying on the beach in the Osa peninsula park in south west Costa Rica facing the Pacific Ocean. If you said yes; sorry it is not the same order as the Elephant. It is not just the noses but also the feet.
If you like it, click it. Your thoughts are also welcome in the comment area below.
This zoo is not a cat house. It is a house with a cat collection. Here are a few photos of some of the species. I hope that you have an opportunity to visit and contribute to the work of the Naples Zoo.
This visit to the Naples Zoo was done in preparation for my trip to Africa later this summer. I anticipate the African photo safari will be a rewarding adventure without the obstructions. The greatest difficulty I encountered here were the bars and fencing that obstructed a clear view. All of the images required extensive editing with Photoshop to make the images publishable. The zoo makes an excellent effort to maintain security for the public and the animals. On the other hand the zoo provides a predictable access for all of us to enjoy. The Florida panther is shown to demonstrate the typical enclosure fencing. I included it to remind all that the fencing may be more for the protection of the animals than for the people. Please recall the tragic death of the Malaysian tiger, Eco, about which I previously posted at Ode to Eco.
When I return from Africa we can compare the animals and ecosystems of both locations.
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There is an existential relationship between butterflies and specific plants. This has been discussed in previous postings. See Milkweed and Monarch and OE.
The classic example of this is the Monarch and the milkweed plant. This specific relationship exemplifies mutualism. The milkweed is a mildly toxic plant which the Monarch larva, caterpillar and butterfly can tolerate. This gives the multiple staged Monarch an environmental advantage. The toxic product of the plant is not metabolized by the insect; however, it is retained in their body during the caterpillar and butterfly stages. The toxic material residing in the very helpless stage makes the caterpillar less inviting to birds and other prey. The toxic chemical tastes bad and in sufficient quantities poisons the prey. The milkweed benefits from the butterfly pollination and thus facilitates propagation of its species.
Other relationships exist between the butterflies of different species and their feeding plant habits. Most insects feed on plant nectar and when coincidentally accumulating pollen on their bodies transfer that pollen to another plant of the same species. This results in cross polination and promotes fertility and diversity of genetic material in the various species. This sweet substance is often the source of nutrition that is sought after by the adult butterflies. The plant leaves are nutritious to the caterpillar stage of the butterflies.
The “butterfly plants” themselves are interesting to people because they attract butterflies and other insects such as bees and because they are very beautiful. Unfortunately, the blossoms are usually small and don’t get the deserved attention. I believe that their beauty is underappreciated. In this blog we can enjoy them for just their flowers. Shown here are plants from one private garden at one residential site. If you look at the epicollect5 data base you can find it close to observation #122
I’m sure that you will appreciate the coming blog site which will show the wide varies of butterflies that I have seen in the changing seasons of Florida. Click through the following series of photos to enjoy close up views of the blooms.
Whether you plant them in pots or in the yard you will get a double bonus, beautiful blossoms and butterflies.
Making your garden:
Large or small, make it fun and easy to maintain. Plan for about six hours of direct sunlight mostly in the morning. Pick a location that has plenty of hedges, shrubs, and trees around it to provide places for butterflies to take shelter from the elements and local predators. Alternatively, make a safe spot. Install some fencing or trellis around the edges, and plant some vining flowers next to them to make your butterfly garden a beautiful and thriving focal point. Diversify your flowers to provide both food and nesting environment for a variety of butterfly species. Provide some open spaces for sunning and some water or close proximity to water. Importantly avoid pesticides and use native plants. It is OK to set out a small plate of sweet ripe fruit on occasion for the butterflies.
Click on Butterfly attracting plants to see a work-in-progress list of plants and associated butterflies that I have assembled from observation in existing gardens in SWFL.
Check out this observation from our Epicollect5 site 122 through 129.
Please contribute your thoughts or experiences in the space below or simply click like!
Milkweed plants are the sustaining plants for the Monarch and Queen butterflies. They also are the vector for transmission for the protozoan parasitic OE (Ophryocystis elektroscirrha) infection. The three are intimately related. The Monarch depends exclusively on Milkweed for survival. The butterfly and its parasite cannot propagate without the plant. The insect and protozoan both mature through their growth and reproduction cycles* in perfect harmony on the leaves of the milkweed. Apparently, at this stage in our environment no Monarchs been found in the wild without some level of the parasitic infection. The infection is apparently only a matter of degree. Compared to uninfected individuals Monarchs have reduced survival rate and longevity, lower reproductive success, and compromised flight ability. This substantially alters their ability to migrate and reproduce. We have seen this in an earlier blog posting.
Investigation of this process is important to the survival of the Monarch butterfly population. I highly recommend that you participate in a citizen scientist project. It is sponsored by the Odum School of Ecology, University of Georgia, Athens GA, 30602. Check out their site at Project Monarch Health.
Your comments and contributions to this topic are welcome. Please enter them in the comments box below. Please check out the recommended readings to discuss topics of prevention and control of OE.