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Action Alert - This is “make it or break it” time for restoration of the Ocklawaha River!

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We’ve never been so close to success in a decades-long effort to restore the Ocklawaha River and 15,000 acres of floodplain forest that were lost or damaged when the river was dammed in 1968 as part of the disastrous Cross Florida Barge Canal project. FNPS is one of 60 organizations that comprise the Free the Ocklawaha Coalition, and this is the make-it-or-break-it moment when we need to show the Governor, Legislature and FDEP that citizens want to restore the Ocklawaha by breaching the Kirkpatrick Dam. The St Johns River Water Management District is coordinating an online public survey to gauge support for restoration and we are asking you to take a few moments to complete the survey and let Florida decisionmakers know you support restoration of a free-flowing Ocklawaha. A link to the survey and information to help you answer the survey questions are provided below. Even if you have never experienced the natural beauty and ecological splendor of the undisturbed, natural reaches of the

Jim Thomas, 1930-2021

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Longtime Florida Native Plant Society member, Oakland Nature Preserve (ONP) founder and past president of the board, Jim Thomas died Sunday, September 19, quietly at his home in Winter Garden after a long debilitating illness. His wife of 60 years, Margaret (Ms. Peg), was with him. A fifth generation Floridian, Jim was born in November, 1930. He grew up filling his pockets full of critters as he explored the outdoors, which he loved so much. This love of nature followed Jim into his adults life, and he continued his education in biology and environmental studies receiving his B.S. from Florida State University and MS from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He also attended Yale University, University of Florida, North Carolina State University, University of Puerto Rico and Rutgers University for additional graduate studies. In 1990, he settled with his family into the West Orange Community and showed us that many positive things are possible, and quality of life can b

Legislative Delegation Season 2021

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WHAT A Legislative Delegation is an office within (most) county governments and the group of state-level legislators that represent that county. This group holds public meetings once a year in the Board of County Commissioners chambers or some other public meeting place. This meeting is in the winter, between December and February. Members of the public who wish to speak must submit a completed Public Hearing Form well before the meeting, although in most cases citizens can show up and file a card on the spot to speak to the delegation. Every county in Florida has a legislative delegation, which consists quite simply of the members of the Florida Legislature that represent that county and its residents. Each of us lives in a House District and a Senate District, with the boundaries of those districts drawn so as to ensure that each of the 120 Representatives in the Florida House, and each of the 40 Senators in the Florida Senate, represents an equal number of Floridians. If you live

National Moth Week comes to a close

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Synchlora larvae shows off its attire of Dune Sunflower petals, as well as its handiwork on the flower.  With a Pityopsis graminifolia blossom and an index fingertip for size comparison, this captures just how small these Synchlora caterpillars are, even adorned in flower petals. Caterpillar photos by Laura Bennett-Kimble Today is the final day of the 10th annual National Moth Week, and to cap off the week, we’re going to look at the Synchlora genus, a group of moths that include tiny inchworm-type caterpillars and beautiful emerald moths A very interesting trait of the 12 North American species in this genus is that of disguising themselves when vulnerable larvae. The Camouflage Looper, or Wavy-lined Emerald Moth, ( Synchlora aerata ) and Southern Emerald Moth ( Synchlora frondaria ) are two species that cover themselves in flower petals and other plant material. The larvae seem to prefer composite flowers, such as those found on Pityopsis graminifolia , Helianthus debilis and Biden

Inscrutable as a sphinx?

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Two sphinx moths seek out nectar from forked bluecurls and pityopsis plants.  The two close-up photos, which show more detail, including the proboscis on one of the moths, are cropped from the larger photo. Photos by Laura Bennett-Kimble. Have you ever been excited to spot a hummingbird buzzing around flowers, only to realize it was actually a large moth? You’re not alone. Many species in the moth family Sphingidae resemble hummingbirds in flight, as they beat their wings rapidly and hover over blossoms, and their abdomen shape can actually resemble the body of those tiny birds, too. The moths are commonly called hummingbird, hawk and sphinx moths, the latter name having all sorts of interesting connotations. Sphinx is the name of a winged female Greek monster that had a tendency to kill those who couldn’t answer her riddles, and it’s also the name of an ancient Egyptian mythological creature with a human head and a lion’s body – think of those enormous stone monuments in Egypt’s deser

Our biggest moth - the Cecropia Silk Moth

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Cecropia moth ( Hyalophora cecropia ) adult. Photo by lotteryd, CC BY-NC Today, we’re going to take a look at a big, beautiful moth – the Cecropia Silk Moth ( Hyalophora cecropia ). Striking in appearance in both its larval and adult phases, this moth can be found from Florida north to Nova Scotia in Canada, and as far west as the Rocky Mountains. The moths are the largest found in North America. Their bodies are reddish orange, and wings are black to brown with striking bands of white, red and tan. A typical wingspan is five to seven inches, according to the National Wildlife Federation . Caterpillars are spectacular looking, too, with bright green bodies covered in knobby protuberances of orange, yellow and blue, as well as delicate black spikes. Like most butterfly and moth larvae, the caterpillars do change coloration and morphology as they grow from one developmental stage (instar) to the next. Cecropia Moth caterpillar, St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve. Photo by Sophia Fonsec

Tussock moth caterpillars – Don’t touch!

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The fancy, sometimes troublesome Tussock Moth caterpillar. Photo by Laura Bennett-Kimble. A Tussock Moth caterpillar meanders across an outdoor restaurant's table. Photo by Laura Bennett-Kimble. An adult Fir Tussock Moth ( Orgyia detrita ) hanging out on a stucco wall. Photo by zara_nature_nerd, CC BY-NC We all have our defense mechanisms, whether it’s cracking a joke when someone says something inappropriate to you or jumping out of the way when a cyclist roars past you without saying, “on your left.” In the natural world, defense mechanisms can get a little more aggressive, as anyone who’s inadvertently disturbed a wasp nest can attest. Other defenses are just part of an insect’s physiology. Take the spines and spikes that adorn many caterpillars. Are they trouble or not? It depends. The Royal Walnut Moth ( Citheronia regalis ) caterpillar has formidable spikes and horns that apparently are not toxic to humans, but they sure make you pause before grabbing one. However, cute litt