Astropecten articulatus, 18 August 2013

Astropecten articulatus, the Royal starfish;
Volusia county, Florida (18 August 2013).

The Royal starfish is one of the more common starfish species on Volusia County beaches, but they can lose the brilliance of their colors rather quickly once they expire. On the Atlantic coast, this species ranges as far north as North Carolina. On the Gulf coast, they range west along the Florida panhandle to southern Alabama.

Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis, 09 April 2014

Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis, the Eastern garter snake;
Flagler county, Florida (09 April 2014).

We have some fantastic blue/green variations within our local Eastern garter snake populations. The garters of Flagler, Volusia, and Brevard counties are a festival to the eye. Definitely my favorite variant of the species I’ve come across.

Anolis distichus, 08 July 2011

Anolis distichus, the Bark anole;
Monroe county, Florida (08 July 2011).

A non-native species that lives most of its Floridian life flanked by competition below and competition above, the Bark anole is a small, agile, and (re)active species predisposed to dodging danger by scampering around the trunks of trees. From a personal perspective, they’re one of the harder species to get close to, photograph, and/or catch. They’re perpetually hardwired in defensive mode and waste absolutely no time retreating around the curvature of a trunk to avoid conflict. They’re also quite small, which complicates things when you have large hominid hands.

Lampropeltis getula (L. floridana), 09 March 2006

Lampropeltis getula, (Lampropeltis floridana), the Eastern kingsnake;
Brevard county, Florida (09 March 2006).

One of our larger snake species in Florida, the Eastern kingsnake ranges upwards from three to four feet in length as adults. They are quite strong and robust. There’s been a bit of debate about how to classify this species in Florida. Some think of our regional populations throughout the Florida peninsula as the Florida kingsnake (Lampropeltis floridana), while others think of it as a subspecies (L. getula floridana). I’m starting to lean towards the L. floridana designation but am waiting for the debate to progress with more data before fulling switching over from L. getula to L. floridana.

Lithobates sphenocephalus, 02 July 2022

Lithobates sphenocephalus, the Southern leopard frog;
Flagler county, Florida (02 July 2022).

Southern leopard frogs are, as I’m sure they are across most of their range, quite abundant throughout central Florida. This is the species I most commonly encounter during the day. They are often bunkered down along the edges of freshwater bodies, quietly passing through daylight hours, waiting for the sun to set and the action to begin.

Nerodia clarkii compressicauda, 09 July 2011

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

Ranging throughout many of the mangrove-ladened stretches of the southern Florida peninsula coastline, the Mangrove salt marsh snake is a modest, non-venomous species well adapted to its salty habitat. The subspecies is extremely variable in coloration and patterning. This is a fairly dark individual (close to ecdysis of its scales), but others can be more gray-and-black patterned and even bright orange.

Anolis sagrei, 25 May 2012

Anolis sagrei, the Cuban brown anole;
Collier county, Florida (25 May 2012).

Though considered non-native to Florida, the Cuban brown anole has been in the state for quite some time (likely since the late 1800s). Today, the Cuban brown anole is damn near ubiquitous nearly everywhere you go. They dominate lower shrubs, bushes, and limbs and have soundly pushed our native Carolina green anoles back to higher territory. Hardly a day goes by without lined sentries of Cuban brown anoles scurrying across the sidewalk in front of me. Agile, fast, and alert.

Nerodia erythrogaster erythrogaster, 28 March 2012

Nerodia erythrogaster erythrogaster, the Redbelly watersnake;
Lowndes county, Georgia (28 March 2012).

An over-abundance of Redbelly watersnakes was most certainly a benefit of living and working in Valdosta, Georgia, for two years. This is a species that ranges south to north Florida and the Big Bend region — but it doesn’t range to where I grew up and now live (Volusia county, Florida). A bit smaller and slimmer than other regional Nerodia species, I found Redbellies to be slick, agile serpents. Always fantastic to encounter.

Anolis cristatellus, 16 March 2017

Anolis cristatellus, the Puerto Rican crested anole;
Miami-Dade county, Florida (16 March 2017).

The Puerto Rican crested anole is a fairly successful non-native species now established throughout a decent swath of south Florida, especially around the Miami area. A trunk-ground ecomorph, this species competes with another non-native anole in south Florida, the Cuban brown anole. Both species tend to perch head-down on lower trunks and bushes, pouncing downward to catch prey scrambling around on the ground below.

Lampropeltis elapsoides, 16 June 2017

Lampropeltis elapsoides, the Scarlet kingsnake;
Volusia county, Florida (16 June 2017).

For many, the instinctual first response to a photo like this is to try to mutter the old rhyme, “Red on yellow, kill a fellow. Red on black, friend of Jack” (or some variation of it). Though it works in this particular case, it doesn’t always work — and really isn’t a 100% accurate key to reality. Nature is nothing short of complicated, and complexity bring with it variation and exceptions. This is especially true with snakes. Anyhow, this is a fairly bright and mostly-typical Scarlet kingsnake, a non-venomous species often confused with the Eastern coral snake. Note the red head and red eyes of this snake. To the best of my knowledge, those are characteristics never exhibited by the Eastern coral snake (though the Florida scarlet snake also sports a red head with darker red eyes). In Florida, if the snake has a red head, it mostly likely is not a venomous coral snake!

Sistrurus miliarius barbouri, 11 June 2022

Sistrurus miliarius barbouri, the Dusky pigmy rattlesnake;
Volusia county, Florida (11 June 2022).

Perhaps not the most useful reference shot of a Dusky pigmy rattlesnake, but this is what they look like from ground level. A small, venomous pit viper, duskies are extremely abundant in my home territory. The Dusky pigmy rattlesnake has been my most-frequently-observed species the past few years. Fortunately they are not aggressive in the slightest (despite what some may claim). It is a shy, reclusive species quite content to sit still and hide in plain sight.

North Peninsula State Park, 19 February 2014

North Peninsula State Park;
Volusia county, Florida (19 February 2014).

Though most of my photographic interests lie in closely-framed studies of wildlife, I do, from time to time, remember to pan out and admire the vistas around me. This was one such morning in February of 2014. The promise of a day almost-arrived.

Nerodia fasciata pictiventris, 20 March 2015

Nerodia fasciata pictiventris, the Florida banded watersnake;
Collier county, Florida (20 March 2015).

Perhaps my favorite snake species in Florida, this is a fairly dark Florida banded watersnake, a native, non-venomous, and entirely unaggressive species. Florida banded watersnakes are extremely variable in coloring and patterning across their range and even within populations. In south Florida, this dark pattern is a bit more prevalent than elsewhere across the Floridian peninsula.

Anolis chlorocyanus, 21 January 2017

Anolis chlorocyanus, the Hispaniolan green anole;
Broward county, Florida (21 January 2017).

Anolis chlorocyanus is a non-native species that now ranges in pockets of Broward and Palm Beach counties in southeastern Florida. They are far from being common or widespread, but that may change given time (especially in Broward county). An arboreal species, the Hispanionlan green anole sports trunk-crown eco morphology, meaning it is designed to live among the upper reaches of trees and foliage — well above the ground. Thus, this species competes with Florida’s more-native (and quite similar) Carolina green anole, A. carolinensis.

Iguana iguana, 10 July 2011

Iguana iguana, the Green iguana;
Monroe county, Florida (10 July 2011).

A non-native species now well-established throughout south Florida, the Green iguana is considered a nuisance by many because they can do some serious damage to the best laid residential landscaping plans… Still, when I see iguanas, especially one lounging at the edge of a Key West pool, I find myself, well, green with envy. These emerald tanks have quite the gig going.

Anolis carolinensis, 03 March 2012

Anolis carolinensis, the Carolina green anole;
Lake county, Florida (03 March 2012).

A fiesty Carolina green anole, a male, fighting for territory. I watched this and another male battle each other for a bit, each fighting for prime real estate upon which to impress potential females passing by. Note the crested ridge along its back casting that sharp shadow downwards. Cresting is more associated with other non-native anoles in Florida, but Carolina green anoles can crest with the best of them — from time to time. This one had some serious posture-n-pose game.

Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis, 10 June 2020

Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis, the Eastern garter snake;
Volusia county, Florida (10 June 2020).

Garter snakes vary enormously across their North American range. In my region of Florida (Northeast central), they tend to sport a fantastic and fabulous blue-green base tone. I may admire the reds of the Pacific Northwest and the yellows of the Great Plains, but, my oh my, I do love the blue-green garters of Volusia and Flagler, Florida!

Anolis garmani, 06 August 2017

Anolis garmani, the Jamaican giant anole;
Miami-Dade county, Florida (06 August 2017).

The Jamaican giant anole is, as you might guess from its name, a non-native species now established in isolated pockets of south Florida. Though not widespread or abundant, I have seen this species a couple of times in Miami-Dade county. Sometimes they show up; most of the time they don’t. A “crown-giant ecomorph,” this species is adapted to living very high in trees where it can hunt a variety of arboreal prey. Though they are much larger than their lower-lying Anolis relatives, they can sometimes be difficult to spot because of their typical elevated lifestyle.

Pantherophis alleghaniensis, 17 May 2009

Pantherophis alleghaniensis, the Eastern rat snake;
Columbia county, Florida (17 May 2009).

The Yellow rat snake is one of several regional variants of the Eastern rat snake. In much of peninsular Florida, this is the typical appearance of the Eastern rat snake — Yellow base tone with dark stripes. It is one of our larger species, ranging anywhere from two to six feet in length. An excellent and agile climber, the Yellow rat snake is not aggressive and actually quite beneficial to have on one’s property. If any rodents show up, the Eastern rat snake will deal with the rising problem. This species is unaggressive and entirely non-venomous.

Nerodia taxispilota, 06 June 2004

Nerodia taxispilota, the Brown watersnake;
Lake county, Florida (06 June 2004).

The Brown watersnake is the “most arboreal” non-venomous watersnake found in Florida; they often bask on limbs overhanging freshwater bodies of water. If you ever hear a story about a cottonmouth falling into a boat, kayak, or canoe, there’s a decent chance that was actually a Brown watersnake. That’s on par for their behavior (their defensive mode is to simply slip from their perch into the water below) and not so much for cottonmouths (which don’t typically climb limbs and perch over water). As with all of Florida’s Nerodia watersnakes, the Brown water snake is non-venomous and non-aggressive, though they can certainly huff and puff a nice a defensive display when they are cornered on land.

Agkistrodon conanti, 14 March 2018

Agkistrodon conanti, the Florida cottonmouth;
Monroe county, Florida (14 March 2018).

My entire life I’ve been told —again and again— that cottonmouths are aggressive. I have yet to encounter or meet an aggressive cottonmouth, and I’ve encountered many cottonmouths. Instead, what I usually encounter is a cautious, shy, and defensive animal. When they don’t quickly retreat into the water or adjacent cover, they’ll simply hold their position and flash a defensive display, as seen in this image. Occasionally they’ll bluff-strike a bit, but that’s usually a last resort (when I get a bit too close for their comfort). Truly, the Florida cottonmouth is a misunderstood and misrepresented organism. It’s among the easiest serpent species to work with, but it’s also one I’m always very careful with. The Florida cottonmouth is, after all, venomous and always to be treated with utmost respect and due caution whenever encountered and observed.

Acrolophus plumifrontella, 15 July 2013

Acrolophus plumifrontella, the Eastern grass tubeworm moth;
Lowndes county, Georgia (15 July 2013).

When I returned to the American southeast after four years in Alaska, I found myself transfixed by the moths of southern Georgia. Though I’ve always liked them, I learned to look more closely. What I found was an array of biodiversity, texture, and patterning. They may be small, but if you slow down, zoom in, and look closely, you’ll see remarkable intrigue and uniqueness. Truly, I adore moths. How many Eastern grass tubeworm moths did I walk by before learning to look more closely?

Pachygrapsus transversus, 01 July 2019

Pachygrapsus transversus, the Mottled shore crab;
Flagler county, Florida (01 July 2019).

The Mottled shore crab isn’t one of our most-commonly-observed local crustaceans, but I find them an absolute delight whenever I do manage to spot them — which tends to only be along the limestone-strewn, rocky shoreline of southern Flagler county. Though they range throughout much of Florida’s Atlantic coast, around the Gulf of Mexico’s perimeter, and even throughout much of the Caribbean, I really only have experience with them in the Flagler region. This is a good enough reason for me to trek north from time to time!

Anasaitis canosa, 02 September 2012

Anasaitis canosa, the Twinflagged jumping spider;
Lowndes county, Georgia (02 September 2012).

A wee scamper, this Twinflagged jumping spider made me work hard to get this shot — the clearest I could manage. The spider kept darting left and right, forward and back — wash, rinse, repeat. Jumping spiders are tiny little explosions of seemingly perpetual energy.

Anolis cybotes, 21 January 2017

Anolis cybotes, the Hispaniolan stout anole;
Broward county, Florida (21 January 2017).

Anolis cybotes is native to Hispaniola (southeast of Cuba), but they are now lightly established in a few pockets of southeast Florida, particularly in Broward and Palm Beach counties. As is the case with the A. sagrei (the Cuban brown anole), A. cybotes is a trunk-ground ecomorph, meaning its body is designed to perch head-down on lower tree trunks and other structures in search of prey. Once prey is spotted, it’ll jump down to the ground to quickly catch it. Trunk-ground ecomorph anoles are generally brown or tan in base coloring and sport a body built optimized for quick jumping and scampering to catch their prey.

Schistocerca damnifica, 04 January 2015

Schistocerca damnifica, the Mischievous bird grasshopper;
Volusia county, Florida (04 January 2015).

Arguably the finest damn name in all of Orthoptera. Say it with me: SchistocercaDAMNIFICA! That is one hell of an excellent name. Damn! The Mischievous bird grasshopper is fairly abundant in my home territory –I see them regularly-, but I don’t really know why they’re called “mischievous.” They’re pretty shy and wily, as most grasshoppers tend to be. Not nearly as mischievous as their lubber cousins. The damn definitely applies, though, because Damn! Looks at that sucker go!

Megatibicen auletes, 18 June 2013

Megatibicen auletes, the Northern dusk singing cicada;
Lowndes county, Georgia (18 June 2013).

One significant benefit of living in South Georgia for two years or so was the hyper-abundance of cicadas each summer season — especially with this tank, the Northern dusk singing cicada. This is the Bruce Springsteen of cicadas. Clearly the boss, and I couldn’t get enough of the compound eyes set outside that fabulous triple-set of jewel-like ocelli. A truly strange and brilliant creature. Boss-level: Maximum.

Pachydiplax longipennis, 12 June 2013

Pachydiplax longipennis, the Blue dasher;
Lowndes county, Georgia (12 June 2013).

Though they range far beyond the area, I positively adored the density of Blue dashers in Lowndes county, Georgia. Sure, this species ranges all the way west to California, northwest to Washington, and northeast to Maine, but southern Georgia was like an extended Odonatan rave of Blue dashers darting about on ecstasy. They were, in a word, abundant.

Enaphalodes rufulus, 26 May 2020

Enaphalodes rufulus, the Red oak boarer;
Volusia county, Florida (26 May 2020).

As the relaunch of Floridensis pushes forward, it’s time for our first Coleopteran beetle post. Here, then, is a fairly lovely Red oak boarer hanging out on our Ormond Beach back patio window a few years back. A member of Family Cerambycidae, the longhorn beetles, the Red oak boarer can do quite a number on some local oak tree populations during its two-year life cycle, especially when they reproduce in great numbers. They do, after all, boar into Quercus oaks.

Egretta thula, 11 August 2015

Egretta thula, the Snowy egret;
Volusia county, Florida (11 August 2015).

Easily one of my favorite avian species in Florida, the Snowy egret is frequently found in, on, around, and above nearly any body of water — fresh or salt, natural or artificial. Seriously, I see them strutting about damn near everywhere, be it the edge of the Atlantic coastline or a shopping center retention pond. It’s all good, and the Snowy egret has on time to complain.

Lontra canadensis, 30 April 2020

Lontra canadensis, the North American river otter;
Volusia county, Florida (30 April 2020).

River otters aren’t the easiest to photograph in my neck of the woods. When I come across them, they’re typically swimming about dark tannic waters bathed in dark canopied shadows. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a River otter simply stop and look at me. In a sense, they always seem to show off. They’ll dart and swim about, roll in circles and loops, frothing and dashing their way through the water. Active little heathens!

Alligator mississippiensis, 14 March 2021

Alligator mississippiensis, the American alligator;
Monroe county, Florida (14 March 2021).

A nearly-mythic archosaur originating millions of years ago and persisting into the Anthropocene of today, the American alligator is an iconic, everyday creature for me. They’re more common now than they were when I was a kid in the 1970s. Once upon an ago, the American alligator’s numbers were decimated due to unregulated hunting. With environmental protections set in place, however, their numbers steadily grew across their range. Today, American alligators are once again well-situated throughout the Floridian peninsula and elsewhere across their range.

Apalone ferox, 15 March 2019

Apalone ferox, the Florida softshell;
Miami-Dade county, Florida (15 March 2019).

Perhaps my favorite Testudines species in the state, this is the ignoble-yet-awesome Florida softshell turtle. They’re very shy, much faster on land than you’d expect, and quite snappy if handled (for good reason, mind you). Attitude is their collective middle name, and I love that about them. I’m always delighted to come across a Florida soft-shell lolling about on shore after a nice rain.

Anolis equestris, 11 June 2016

Anolis equestris, the Cuban knight anole;
Miami-Dade county, Florida (11 June 2016).

A non-native species now well-established throughout south Florida. They’ve recent begun showing up as far north as even Volusia county. A crown-giant ecomorph, the Cuban knight anole is much, much larger than our native Carolina green anoles (Anolis carolinensis). They’re also damn hard to catch by hand!

Sistrurus miliarius barbouri, 12 May 2021

Sistrurus miliarius barbouri, the Dusky pigmy rattlesnake;
Volusia county, Florida (12 May 2021).

About two years after retiring Floridensis.com, I’ve decided to resurrect and reboot the site from scratch. I’d shifted to mainly posting directly on Twitter (because this is a social media universe), but Twitter’s recent changes and subsequent behaviors have lulled me back into website land. I’ll post images directly to this website and then perhaps share the posts (with images) elsewhere. I really don’t want to rely on an external network, though, so I’m bringing it all back home.

As the site grows, you’ll notice how particular I am when it comes to organization and tagging. Each image will be categorized and/or tagged cladistically and even by location (to the county). In short, once the photos start to stack up (and they most certainly will start to stack up), I like for them to be organizable and filterable by the user — almost like a reference guide. Lack of organization was always my least favorite aspect of social media.

Each post/image will always be accompanied with a caption detailing species, location, and date. In the recent past, I generally haven’t written too much on most posts. I generally see this more as a photo stream than as a proper blog… Still, I may do a bit more writing with this iteration of Floridensis.

Throughout December, I’ll be posting and tinkering with the design of the site; I have to catch up on WordPress upgrades over the past few years. In my mind, I’m aiming for a January 2023 full launch, but I’ll be posting throughout December in order to set up categories and site infrastructure. A nice way to start the New Year and perhaps inspire myself to get out more. The past few years have been downers on my end of the wires, and I’ve been lacking much of my outdoorsy motivation. I plan spending a lot more of 2023 (and beyond) outdoors.

As for this photo, this is a lovely Dusky pigmy rattlesnake, an extremely abundant species throughout my neck of the Floridian peninsula (especially around parts of the Tomoka State Park and Bulow Creek State Park complex). Though venomous, this is a shy, small, and reclusive species. They are not aggressive in the slightest, though they will sometimes spazz out a bit as a defensive display. This species is my most-commonly-observed species where I live. I adore them!

~ Janson