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Polydamas swallowtails visit

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Young Polydamas larvae. It took a couple of years, but the Polydamas Swallowtails finally have discovered my Aristolochia littoralis, calico flower. What's more, they are now very much a part of the butterfly populations that keep the airways busy around my garden. Aristolochia is a genus of tropical vines with pretty heart-shaped leaves. Some of the species have flowers shaped like old-fashioned Dutch pipes, and often the many species are referred to as pipevines. The pipevine...

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Urban bee die-off in Oregon

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

One day last week, 50,000 bumblebees were killed in Wilsonville, Oregon. A landscaper had sprayed blooming linden trees with Safari, a product containing dinotefuran. The ingredient is a systemic insecticide classified as a neonicotinoid, a relative of nicotine that acts on the nervous system of insects. Another June bee kill occurred in the town of Hillsboro. Bumblebees were innocently doing their pollination duty. The Oregon Department of Agriculture immediately suspended the use of 18...

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A hardy shrub for hot South Florida

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Native Tetrazygia bicolor. Enjoying the heat of summer is Tetrazygia bicolor or West Indian lilac. Its white flowers with bold yellow stamens appear crisp and undeterred by the wilting heat. This native shrub loves our limestone soils and yet it appreciates some organic content. The shrub is in the Melastomaceae, a wide-ranging tropical family, and it has characteristic melastome leaves with distinctive veins. In southern Florida, it grows on the edges of hammocks to garner sun and ...

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Celebrate Pollinators!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A happy bee on white milkweed vine, Sarcostemma clausum Pollinator Week begins June 17. As we witness the significant decline in honeybees, bumble bees, wild bees, butterflies and birds, let's take this week to plant wildflowers to help out the pollinators remaining. On Saturday, Steve Woodmansee is having a native plant sale at Silent Native Nursery, 16265 SW 210 Terrace, 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Go to PlantRealFlorida.org and find specific plants and what nurseries carry them. Look for...

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Rincon de la Veija Hike

Monday, June 10, 2013

After a night at Rincon de la ViejaLodge a short drive took me to thepark entrance and the beginning ofa 5km walking trail. Through the forest and acrossstreams. Leading up towards the open, mudpool and fumarole-dotted volcanoslope. Spectacular trees Tabebuia chrysantha floweringabove the forest canopy. Emerging from the forest the trail leads past boiling mud pots, belching fumaroles and bubbling pools, the whole area reeking of hydrogen sulphide. A spectacular and dramatic landscape. After ...

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A Hike Along Volcán Tenorio

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Volc n Tenorio - a beautiful and mildly strenuous5km hike along well-defined trails skirting theRio Celeste on the slopes of Volc n Tenorio Lush vegetation.Featured: Heliconia A species of Psychotria (great butterfly nectar plants) Another species of Psychotria Breathing the strong odor of hydrogen sulphide I followed the Rio Celeste past aspectacular waterfall along a trail dotted with . . . . . . tree ferns and palms. Across semi-secure bridges Until the reason for the...

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Aflame in the conservatory

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Warszewiczia coccinea. Blooming beautifully in the Conservatory is Warszewiczia coccinea, a small tree in the coffee family with fire engine red sepals that offset small yellow flowers. The name, a tongue twister, remembers Josef Warszewicz, a 19th Century botanist who found an enormous number of orchids and sent them to England to be described. Warszewicz was of Polish descent, born in 1812, but as a young man had to leave his homeland because of a revolution. He worked at the Botanical ...

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Blue Morphos: From Farm to Fairchild

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Butterfly Walk The Morpho breeding cage With a lot of inhabitants Laying eggs on their host-plant Which are collected daily, approx. 2000 eggs per day Michael has this task every day Eggs are hatched in a secure cage in the laboratory Small caterpillars are then returned to livinghost-plants and protected by fine mesh bags Once fully grown the mature caterpillars arereturned to a cage in the lab to pupate Blue Morpho pupae home at Fairchild And an adult Blue Morpho (Morpho peleides)...

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Searching for new nectar plant species

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I spent most of yesterday cruising the back-roads close to the Nicaraguan border hoping to come across new nectar plant species, but the whole lowland area is parched through lack of rain. One spectacular sight during the day was this beautiful Guanacaste tree, Enterolobium cyclocarpum, the national tree of Costa Rica. Following a particularly colorful sunset, viewed from the butterfly farm, the manager and his staff had some success in our search for the beetle we are trying to bring into ...

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Hiking in paradise

Monday, May 27, 2013

Heliconia orthotricha. Podocarpus National Park, covering 1,400 square kilometers or more than 900 square miles, in southern Ecuador, has spectacular plant and animal diversity -- more than 600 species of birds and 4,000 species of plants, 40 percent of which are endemic. So biologically rich, the park is called "the botanical garden of the Americas." Hiking here is one of life's great pleasures if you are nature nut like me. Butterfly on Miconia leaf. Philodendrons, ferns,...

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