Neoscona domiciliorum, 08 September 2013

Neoscona domiciliorum, the Red-femured spotted orbweaver;
Volusia county, Florida (08 September 2013).

Orbweavers are fantastic. The little ones rock, the big ones rule. This is one of the larger ones, the Red-femured spotted orbweaver. They have a propensity for spinning a fairly large web over somewhat open areas in hardwood-laden environments. I often come across them early in the morning — after what must’ve been a cozy night’s work.

Sistrurus miliarius barbouri, 04 September 2016

Sistrurus miliarius barbouri, the Dusky pigmy rattlesnake;
Volusia county, Florida (04 September 2016).

Ultimately, I’ll probably post more dusky shots on Floridensis this year than any other species. Though I’ve worked with them steadily for the better part of a decade, my admiration and fascination for this species has skyrocketed in the past two years. Anolis and Nerodia are high on my all-time-favs list, of course, but I think Sistrurus has definitely cracked the top three.

Schistocerca damnifica, 15 March 2015

Schistocerca damnifica, the Mischievous bird grasshopper;
Volusia county, Florida (15 March 2015).

I never get tired of saying the name “Schistocerca DAMNIFICA!” Why a fantastic name to say aloud. In central Florida, this is one of our more-abundant grasshoppers. Rather, I should say it’s one of our most-abundantly noticed grasshoppers. Others may perhaps be more common, but Mischievous bird grasshoppers tend to pop out in clear and present view. I see them frequently and often.

Alligator mississippiensis, 11 June 2016

Alligator mississippiensis, the American alligator;
Miami-Dade county, Florida (11 June 2016).

Here’s a nice, tight shot of a young American alligator striking the pose. For a time as a small child, gators weren’t all that commonly seen in my area of central Florida. Thanks to protections, however, their populations continued to regain their footing, and today they are fairly common anywhere there’s a decent habitat. I’m grateful. Alligators are resilient, beautiful, and important members of our ecological matrix.

Gymnetis thula, 27 April 2013

Gymnetis thula, the Harlequin flower beetle;
Lake county, Florida (27 April 2013).

A fabulously strange and ornate Harlequin flower beetle loitering abut the interior of Lake county, Florida. In the United States, this species appears to mostly be limited to Florida, Louisiana and Texas. This is, to date, the only individual I’ve seen, and it was a sight to behold.

Anaxyrus terrestris, 17 June 2020

Anaxyrus terrestris, the Southern toad;
Volusia county, Florida (17 June 2020).

Common as they may be (at times), I never grow tired of a nice, frumpy Southern toad giving me The Look.

Neoconocephalus triops, 08 March 2015

Neoconocephalus triops, the Broad-tipped conehead katydid;
Volusia county, Florida (08 March 2015).

As I’ve said before, I’m a huge fan of katydids. What a marvelous little subject of Orthoptera. Grasshoppers and crickets are cool and all, but KatydidLand is where it’s at. Long live the katydid. I photographed this one on a plant adjacent to our front patio in Ormond Beach.

Egretta tricolor, 18 August 2006

Egretta tricolor, the Tricolored heron;
Lake county, Florida (18 August 2006).

Who doesn’t love a nice Tricolored heron? This species is very abundant in Florida but probably less noticed and recognized than their bigger, louder Great blue heron and Great egret cousins. This Tricolored heron was loitering about on an elevated dock path in Lake county, Florida. Wasn’t the first, and certainly won’t be the last. This species is very common on elevated dock paths.

Libellula axilena, 18 June 2013

Libellula axilena, the Bar-winged skimmer;
Lowndes county, Georgia (18 June 2013).

Another dragon-of-the-skies. When I see a dragon like the Bar-winged skimmer, I find myself very relieved to have not been born a small insect. Imagine how terrifying this creature must be from the vantage of its prey.

Coluber constrictor priapus, 22 July 2016

Coluber constrictor priapus, the Southern black racer;
Volusia county, Florida (22 July 2016).

A Southern black racer reminding me how much more agile it is than I am. With their sharp visual acuity, lightning fast reflexes, reactive defensiveness, and rapid-fire speed-on-command, racers are a challenge to catch up to and work with. I love them, but they don’t always make it easy. Sometimes, however, their punkish attitude results in an interesting shot. I was trying to get a reference shot of the snake’s dorsal scales, and the snake threaded through its own coil to stare me down.

Hyla cinerea, 12 April 2014

Hyla cinerea, the American green treefrog;
Gilchrist county, Florida (12 April 2014).

With its bright yellow freckles in full bloom, this American green treefrog was pretty easy to spot from afar. This particular weekend in Gilchrist county was absolutely wild. I camped out there for a night, and much of the area was absolutely inundated with standing water. Tons of mosquitos and heaps of frogs. I wasn’t one to complain. I found this one before the sun set (and found many, many more once the dark had risen).

Anolis carolinensis, 31 August 2011

Anolis carolinensis, the Carolina green anole;
Lowndes county, Georgia (31 August 2011).

A native Carolina green anole giving me the look around in Valdosta, Georgia. During my two years in Valdosta, it was nice seeing so many Green anoles relatively close to the group. Because the lower-dwelling Cuban brown anoles weren’t widely distributed in this area at the time, the Carolina greens felt more comfortable close to the ground. In peninsular Florida, most of our Carolina greens now spend their time a bit higher in the trees, likely to avoid confrontation and competition with their Cuban brown anole relatives.

Iguana iguana, 18 March 2017

Iguana iguana, the Green iguana;
Miami-Dade county, Florida (18 March 2017).

The best kind of green is the green of a juvenile Green iguana chilling out in a thick tangle of greenery. What a sight. This little one was photographed on the edge of somebody’s yard in South Miami.

Nerodia clarkii compressicauda, 09 July 2011

Nerodia clarkii compressicauda, the Mangrove salt marsh snake;
Monroe county, Florida (09 July 2011).

A fantastic Mangrove salt marsh snake just about to reach ecdysis, the shedding of its scales. Note the milky blue eye. That’s its ocular scale very, very ready to shed. What a fantastic species. As the name suggests, they scratch out a living along mangrove forests right on the coastline. This individual was photographed in a mangrove on the edge of the Florida Keys. This species is entirely non-venomous and non-aggressive.

Melampus coffea, 21 March 2015

Melampus coffea, the Coffee bean snail;
Miami-Dade county, Florida (21 March 2015).

The Coffee bean snail… Perfect name for a horde of little snails clustering together like that. This walk of snails was photographed near the edge of a mangrove on the coastline at Coral Gables, Florida.

Gopherus polyphemus, 11 December 2022

Gopherus polyphemus, the Gopher tortoise;
Lake county, Florida (11 December 2022).

This super young Gopher tortoise was loitering around a bit too close to a pool, so it was gently taken to the other side of the fence where the sandy dunes and nearby cacti reside. Is there anything as precious as a tiny, baby Gopher tortoise?

Macromia taeniolata, 29 June 2019

Macromia taeniolata, the Royal river cruiser;
Volusia county, Florida (29 June 2019).

The Royal river cruiser is a magnificent dragon to come across in central Florida. I found this beast of the lower skies hanging out along the edge of my backyard one quiet night. Dragonflies really are quite tremendous in flight and on camera.

Nerodia floridana, 07 May 2017

Nerodia floridana, the Florida green watersnake;
Lake county, Florida (07 May 2017).

When it comes to Florida green watersnakes in my hands, the only thing better than catching a nice, healthy adult for photographs is catching two of them at the same time. I think my record is four or five at the same time, but that’s a post for another day. Anyhow, here are two beautiful and lovely Florida green watersnakes from the interior of Lake county, Florida. Big, beefy, and entirely non-venomous.

Hyla squirella, 01 June 2004

Hyla squirella, the Squirrel treefrog;
Lake county, Florida (01 June 2004).

This is an extremely old photo taken with my first digital camera. This is a Squirrel treefrog, a very common species that is extremely variable in appearance. A general rule of thumb for identification: When you can rule out all the other Hyla treefrogs as potential candidates, then it’s probably a Squirrel treefrog. Most Squirrel treefrogs are much brighter green. This is not a typical representative, but it’s also not any of the other Hyla treefrogs. It took forever to identify this one back in the day, and I had to rely on some community identification support via iNaturalist.org.

Lithobates catesbeianus, 18 October 2006

Lithobates catesbeianus, the American bullfrog;
Seminole county, Florida (18 October 2006).

An old picture of an American bullfrog that used to hang out by our patio back in Sanford, Florida. We lived in an apartment complex near the edge of Lake Monroe for about a year and a half. The complex was riddled with managed ponds and connecting waterlines. Thus, we had no shortage of amphibian power action. Tons of bullfrogs and toads each and every night temperature permitted.

Anolis garmani, 11 June 2016

Anolis garmani, the Jamaican giant anole;
Miami-Dade county, Florida (11 June 2016).

It’s hard for me to overstate how much I adore the Jamaican giant anole. This species is most certainly not native to Florida but is now somewhat established in a few pockets of south Florida. I’m not sure how much success they’ll have colonizing and pushing northward; sometimes it seems like they’re barely hanging on in south Florida. Finding this one was, as you might imagine, fairly exciting. Of note, this is a smaller individual undergoing rapid color change between bright, emerald green and dark brown.

Eburia quadrigeminata, 30 May 2015

Eburia quadrigeminata, the Ivory-marked borer;
Volusia county, Florida (30 May 2015).

Fairly common in my neck of the woods, the Ivory-marked borer can often be seen hanging on to the edges of exterior windows, as this one was (the photo is rotated 90 degrees). It seems they are attracted to electric lights at night.

Dichromorpha viridis, 08 September 2013

Dichromorpha viridis, the Short-winged green grasshopper;
Volusia county, Florida (08 September 2013).

This is a set of Short-singed green grasshoppers. Females are typically larger than the males. In this image, you can see a male riding on the back of the much more impressive female, as they often do. The species ranges throughout much of eastern North America. These two were photographed along the edge of a road in Northern Volusia County.

Agkistrodon conanti, 26 January 2021

Agkistrodon conanti, the Florida cottonmouth;
Volusia county, Florida (26 January 2021).

A simple message from a firm communicator saying, “Now’s the time to back off.” Florida cottonmouths are indeed venomous, but they are quite far from being “aggressive.” I’ve never once been chased by a cottonmouth, though I have had a few stubbornly work their way towards me because I was between them and the water. Heh.

Turpilia rostrata, 28 May 2015

Turpilia rostrata, the Narrow-beaked katydid;
Volusia county, Florida (28 May 2015).

I do adore some solid katydid action, and Ormond Beach, Florida, is a damn fine place to live if carry such adoration. Katydids come in many sizes and shapes, but I find the Narrow-beaked katydid to be one of the more intriguingly unique when it comes to head shape. I can’t get enough of that narrow, downward-turned head. The lush greens are certainly a bonus, as they are with many of our local katydid species.

Gasteracantha cancriformis, 11 July 2015

Gasteracantha cancriformis, the Spinybacked orbweaver;
Volusia county, Florida (11 July 2015).

The Spinybacked orbweaver is a very small species commonly encountered throughout Florida and elsewhere across its range (from the Southeastern United States through Central American and much of South America). This is a fairly typical pattern for the Spinybacks we have in central Florida.

Coluber constrictor priapus, 18 April 2020

Coluber constrictor priapus, the Southern black racer;
Volusia county, Florida (18 April 2020).

I’m always delighted when I get a clear racer profile. This species is so active, so reactive, so energetic, so, so, so spastic. Heh. To put it mildly. It takes a bit of time for them to calm down enough for a clear shot like this. File under: Patience!

Agama picticauda, 02 September 2011

Agama picticauda, the African redhead agama;
Miami-Dade county, Florida (02 September 2011).

Also known as Peter’s rock agama, the African redhead agama is a non-native species now well established throughout much of south Florida. Steadily, they’ve been working their way northward, popping up here and there. This individual is an adult male. Females and young males sport more mottled and muted colors, lacking the bright orange head contrasted with deep purple-blue body tone.

Verrucosa arenata, 09 May 2015

Verrucosa arenata, the Arrowhead orbweaver;
Volusia county, Florida (09 May 2015).

I’ve never managed get a great photograph of an Arrowhead orbweaver, but this one is clear enough for me. It was a good moment, a good experience. As for this species, the Arrowhead orbweaver is fairly common throughout Florida but less commonly notice or observed. It is, as you might imagine, fairly tiny and easy to miss. They’re pretty good about stealthily slinking around in plain sight.

Lampropeltis elapsoides, 13 April 2020

Lampropeltis elapsoides, the Scarlet kingsnake;
Volusia county, Florida (13 April 2020).

A Scarlet kingsnake reeling around a bit to see what the photographer guy is up to. This species is entirely non-venomous and unaggressive. It is fairly shy and reclusive, spending much of the daytime hidden under surface detritus. At night, however, you’re more likely to find them slinking about for a meal.

Acanthocephala declivis, 19 June 2022

Acanthocephala declivis, the Giant leaf-footed bug;
Lake county, Florida (19 June 2022).

The Giant leaf-footed bug is another seemingly scary big bug many believe to be dangerous to humans but, in fact, is not. This is no assassin bug, despite its fearsome appearance. As for this individual, it was casually strolling along the handrail of an elevated boardwalk deep in the heart of Lake county, Florida. As is usually the case, the bug watched me cautiously and then went on about its day.

Lyssomanes viridis, 20 April 2020

Lyssomanes viridis, the Magnolia green jumping spider;
Volusia county, Florida (20 April 2020).

Oh, yeah, I do love some solid arachnid action, and the Magnolia green jumping spider absolutely delivers. With its brilliant greens and overall agility, this is always a fun species to encounter — though it’s not always the easiest to photograph.

Petrolisthes armatus, 01 July 2019

Petrolisthes armatus, the Green porcelain crab;
Flagler county, Florida (01 July 2019).

Though they do have a considerable range, I’ve only encountered the Green porcelain crab along the rocky beaches of Flagler county, Florida. So far, at least. The Green porcelain crab is actually more closely related to squat lobsters than they are to other crabs.

Indotyphlops braminus, 28 April 2017

Indotyphlops braminus, the Brahminy blind snake;
Volusia county, Florida (28 April 2017).

The Brahminy blind snake is the smallest snake species in the world. Native to Southern Asia, this species has essentially colonized much of the world with thanks to the plant trade. This is especially the case in peninsular Florida where the species can be found in our many and varied gardens. Entirely fossorial, the Brahminy blind snake lives not unlike your typical earthworm. In addition to its tiny, subterranean existence, the species is also parthenogenic, meaning they are entirely female and self-reproduce. Thus, is doesn’t take very many stragglers to establish a new colony. Really, I guess it only takes one, right?

Menippe nodifrons, 20 January 2020

Menippe nodifrons, the Cuban stone crab;
Volusia county, Florida (20 January 2020).

The Cuban stone crab ranges across Florida’s east coast from around Key Largo north to St. Augustine. This is a fairly small, squat individual spotted along the Ormond Beach shoreline.

Sternotherus minor, 30 October 2016

Sternotherus minor, the Loggerhead musk turtle;
Levy county, Florida (30 October 2016).

Just getting started on the big game of life, here’s a wee Loggerhead musk turtle from the sparkling clear freshwaters of Levy county, Florida. Small turtle, big attitude!

Serenoa repens, 01 January 2023

Serenoa repens, the Saw palmetto;
Volusia county, Florida (01 January 2023).

Check out all that Saw palmetto lining the edge of an Ormond Beach trail. Serenoa repens is a smaller palm species rarely growing more than about seven to ten feet in height. I usually see them at about five to seven feet in height. The palm stems are lined with short, sharp spines, which can make walking through thick masses of Saw palmetto a bit challenging. From my vantage, the Saw palmetto is iconic of the Florida I grew up in.

Sistrurus miliarius barbouri, 01 January 2023

Sistrurus miliarius barbouri, the Dusky pigmy rattlesnake;
Volusia county, Florida (01 January 2023).
Serpentes.2023.002.

Unsurprisingly, my second snake for 2023 was another Dusky pigmy rattlesnake. It’s a good thing I consider this to be my favorite species these days because I see them far more often than any other species in my home territory. This individual was a very small juvenile. I was hoping to find a juvenile Dusky on this New Year’s Day hike because of our brutal cold snap last week. I’m glad this little one made it through the cold okay.

Sistrurus miliarius barbouri, 01 January 2023

Sistrurus miliarius barbouri, the Dusky pigmy rattlesnake;
Volusia county, Florida (01 January 2023).
Serpentes.2023.001.

It seems appropriate that my first snake for 2023 was a Dusky pigmy rattlesnake encountered a few short miles from my home during a New Year’s Day hike. This species is —hands down— the most abundantly observed species for me in my neck of the woods. This individual had some strange scaling around the mouth and lower back. I’m not sure if it was a result of disease or damage accrued from our recent cold snap. It was really cold here last week (a bit below freezing two nights in a row). Something to keep an eye out for in the new year.

Nerodia fasciata pictiventris, 09 September 2006

Nerodia fasciata pictiventris, the Florida banded watersnake;
Alachua county, Florida (09 September 2006).

This is a caramello (as I call it) variant of the non-venomous and entirely unaggressive Florida banded watersnake, a highly variable subspecies of the Banded watersnake. I tend to mostly see caramellos in Lake and Alachua counties, though they do occasionally pop up elsewhere as well. Usually, this species is much, much darker in adult form.

Leptuca thayeri, 07 August 2019

Leptuca thayeri, the Atlantic mangrove fiddler crab;
Volusia county, Florida (07 August 2019).

The Atlantic mangrove fiddler crab is just what its common name indicates: A fiddler crab species that likes to hang out in muddy mangrove-laden areas of Florida’s Atlantic coast. I don’t see this species very often, but that’s probably because their preferred habitat is harder to get to. I photographed this one from a kayak drifting a bit off the mudline.

Anhinga anhinga, 29 February 2020

Anhinga anhinga, the Anhinga;
Lake county, Florida (29 February 2020).

The Anhinga is a regional favorite for me. Though I may be into scales a bit more than proper feathers, Anhingas truly are terrific. They’re fantastic swimmers and carry the nickname the “snakebird.” Once back out of the water, they’ll dry their feathers out by holding their wings up and outward in a classic angel pose. This one had already dried off but was enjoying its perch all the same.

Leptuca pugilator, 24 May 2019

Leptuca pugilator, the Atlantic sand fiddler crab;
Brevard county, Florida (24 May 2019).

I do adore the diminutive and shy Atlantic sand fiddler crab. These tiny crabs can be seen en masse trolling about the muddy banks of our salt marshes. When you see a muddy “beach” move around, odds are you’re looking at a horde of tiny fiddler crabs heading back to the burrows.

Orchelimum pulchellum, 29 June 2014

Orchelimum pulchellum, the Handsome meadow katydid;
Volusia county, Florida (29 June 2014).

Ranging throughout the American southeast, the Handsome meadow katydid is one of our more-colorful Orthopteran species. Riddled with bright greens and brilliant splashes of blood-like reddish tones, I come across this species from time to time in central Florida. It’s an easy species to spot; most katydids and grasshoppers are a little less dramatic when it comes to those red splashes!

Pantherophis alleghaniensis, 01 March 2007

Pantherophis alleghaniensis, the Eastern (yellow) rat snake;
Volusia county, Florida (01 March 2007).

I like to have fun with macro photographs by playing around with the background elements. Bokeh is delicious. In this case, the background yellow gradient was actually a yellow road stripe; the snake was photographed at the edge of a local parking lot near Deland, Florida.

Grapsus grapsus, 05 July 2011

Grapsus grapsus, the Sally lightfoot crab;
Monroe county, Florida (05 July 2011).

I had a devil of a time resolving the identification to this crab, but the consensus on iNaturalist settled on the Sally lightfoot crab, Grapsus grapsus. So be it! Anyhow, this crab was one of many photographed on the edge of Key West. I observed them on multiple visits during the 2010s. A very cool, night-centric species.

Leptoglossus fulvicornis, 21 July 2020

Leptoglossus fulvicornis, the Magnolia leaf-footed bug;
Volusia county, Florida (21 July 2020).

The Magnolia leaf-footed bug ranges across much of the American southeast and up a bit into the northeast. Though perhaps fearsome in its appearance, this is not a species known to attack, bite, or sting people. As far as true bugs of Hemiptera are concerned, they’re fairly benign. I find them to be remarkably interesting and engaging. This individual was photographed on my Ormond Beach back patio.

Sistrurus miliarius barbouri, 23 March 2021

Sistrurus miliarius barbouri, the Dusky pigmy rattlesnake;
Volusia county, Florida (23 March 2021).

A mid-sized Dusky pigmy rattlesnake perched patiently in the tangles of Ormond Beach, Florida. As I frequently note, I find Duskies to be delightful to work with. They can be remarkably patient, cautious snakes and don’t have a drop of aggression against humans. This one simply remained perched, waiting to see if it need to flee or not. It did not. I snagged a couple of photographs and went on my way.

Thamnophis saurita sackenii, 19 January 2017

Thamnophis saurita sackenii, the Peninsula ribbon snake;
Lake county, Florida (19 January 2017).

Peninsula ribbon snakes are closely related to the more commonly recognized garter snakes. Ribbons tend to be a bit thinner and, well, ribbon-like. I tend to find them very close to bodies of freshwater. Note the white line in front of the eye; garters lack such a prominently bold white line.

Dolomedes albineus, 29 June 2019

Dolomedes albineus, the White-banded fishing spider;
Volusia county, Florida (29 June 2019).

Ranging throughout much of the eastern half of the United States, the White-banded fishing spider is an apt and able hunter. They tend to hang out near creeks and small streams, hunting for arthropods and even tadpoles. This individual was photographed one evening camped out above a small freshwater creek line within the Bulow Creek State Park area.