Thursday, July 30, 2015

False Tick or "Flying Tick" Identification - Mini Documentary



Is it a Tick or not Tick? Ticks carry Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and just the thought of them can spoil a nice day hike or picnic in the summer, but are those bugs with the prominent looking proboscis (long sucking instrument) crawling all over you in the brush real ticks or the common "False Tick" or "Flying Tick? Here is a quick look at the most common bug misidentified as a tick - Weevils - and most commonly the gregarious Poplar Weevil that can infest areas by the thousands in some years and loves to crawl all over your clothes - especially bright colors.
More information on Poplar Weevils:
More information on Tick Identification:

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Song Sparrow Singing its Song


Song Sparrow calls its song from the top of an Arborvitae. An attractive and cheerful bird it will brighten your day. There is probably a Song Sparrow nest nearby but I haven't found it. Last years nest can be seen at:

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Song Sparrow Singing its Song

Mourning Dove Coo Call


Classic Mourning Dove Cooing call. This Mourning Dove sings its song from a power pole for awhile. If you listen carefully you will hear another distant Mourning Dove calling in between his calls - not sure if they are communicating. Although not particularly loud - the call carries for a long distance. The sound comes from the puffed up lungs and the Dove puts its whole body into the call. You will also hear at least half a dozen other birds calling at the same time - notably an Eastern Towhee that is always showing off and cramping the understated Dove's style!

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Mourning Dove Coo Call

Squirrel Bot Fly Parasite - Mini Documentary


May be disturbing to some viewers.
Gray Squirrels in the Backyard are again afflicted with the larvae of the naturally occurring parasitic Bot Fly. Often mistaken for tumors or squirrel pox it is instead the large "warbles" caused by the Bot Fly and for the last two years it has become a summer phenomena in the Florida Backyard. There are approximately eight Backyard squirrels at any given time and nearly all will get at least a few larvae. Although painful to see them suffer they will all likely survive this seasonal malady. Give them plenty of food and water and moral support! Detailed information can be found at:


Squirrel Bot Fly Parasite

Yellow Jackets Nest and Swarm


Yellow Jackets building a Nest. Big Yellow Jacket gets upset with one of the smaller workers building the nest and dispenses some punishment which sets all of the Yellow Jackets swarming. I noticed the Yellow Jackets building a new nest just 4 feet off the ground under a tree branch and left the camera running for 30 minutes so these Yellow Jackets managed to get upset all by themselves. Does not take much to set them off. This particular kind of nest is quite dangerous because its in a place where one would bump into it mowing around the trees. I planned to leave it in place for a few days to film its rapid growth, but a Black Bear ate it the next night. A nice little snack for them. Filmed in the Great Smoky Mountains.

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Yellow Jackets Nest and Swarm





Sunday, July 12, 2015

Red Centipedes (Scolopocryptops sexspinosus)


Two large Red Centipedes in their nests under a large rock in the Great Smoky Mountains where I was doing some landscaping. The largest at over three inches long is about as big as they get in this area. They are bright red for a reason - it says don't mess with me! It lives in a cavity nest under the rock, the other centipede nearby is much smaller and may be a juvenile. They are generally solitary creatures and can be found under rocks and logs. They are carnivorous eating mainly insects and will give a very nasty bite if messed with. Fortunately their nature is to live in places people don't generally frequent and they run really fast or hide if bothered. They are beneficial if outside where they belong. I do not suggest poking one with a stick! The most likely scenario for a human bite is when doing yard-work and picking up pile of leaves, sticks and yard debris that has been laying around - they might panic and run up your arm or leg - sorry for that imagery, but I'm trying to help. Personally I always wears pants, long sleeves and gloves when doing serious outside work.

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Red Centipedes (Scolopocryptops sexspinosus)

Blue Jay Alarm Call Alerts Backyard Squirrels and Birds



Blue Jays sound the alarm call and a Gray Squirrel eating mangoes in the Backyard immediately heads for safety without hesitation! After a brief wait the coast is clear and he returns to his mango. Blue Jays in the Backyard work hard for their peanuts as they are largely responsible for the lack of predation of squirrels and backyard birds and their young by feral cats, snakes and Red Shouldered Hawks. This important role is often unrecognized in Backyard ecology. Although there are no doubt many false alarms most animals prefer to be safe than dinner! See Blue Jay taking on a Red Shoulder Hawk!

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The alarm call of the Blue Jay sends a Gray Squirrel running for shelter!


Saturday, July 4, 2015

Chipmunks Fourth of July Picnic



Chipmunk and Red Squirrel enjoy a Backyard Peanut Picnic set to an upbeat foot-tapping march. Red Squirrel was a little late to the party. The least I could do for the Furry Backyard Friends on this Independence Day. 

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Chipmunks Fourth of July Picnic


Friday, June 26, 2015

Giant Huntsman Spider in Florida - World's Largest Spider


The world's largest spider the Huge Pantropical Huntsman Spider (Heteropoda venatoria) is alive and well and living in Florida Backyards. At about 3 1/2  inches wide and 4 1/2 inches long it is the largest of the Backyard spiders I have documented. Also called a Giant Crab Spider, it is an introduced species from Asia that is now living wild in subtropical areas of Florida. Ambush hunting for large insects like Palmetto Bugs and small lizards at night. Note this one only has seven legs. They are beneficial spiders that should not be killed. More information can be found at:

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Giant Huntsman Spider in Florida


Giant Huntsman Spider in Florida

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly



Male Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly (Calopteryx maculata) closely related to Dragonflies it was filmed over a small stream in the Great Smoky Mountains - its typical riparian environment. This was filmed hand-held with the Canon SX60 HS at full 1365 mm optical zoom - no excuses, but a bit shaky at times.

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Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly