Monday, August 18, 2008

Robust Shieldback Midnight Snack

Last Friday, Junior called me and asked, "Hey it's going to be a full moon Saturday, do you think it would be okay to go out to the sandspit?"

Now, I am always ready to go out to the sandspit for a night walk at low springtide, so I was about to say, " Yeah, it sounds great to me" ...

He continued, "I want to take Julia and India (2 young ladies) out there and show them all the cool stuff."


" Great idea, you have a 9:00 pm low tide so it's just about perfect. Go and have a good time."

Of course before he was allowed to go out on the sandspit at night with two (I'm so proud!) girls, we had THE TALK. I covered all the usual parental points ... you know ...
"Watch out for oysters, keep your sneakers on."

"Do the stingray shuffle when wading the slough between the shore and the sandspit."

"No swimming or deep wading."

"Most important, pay attention to your time. You have an hour before and after dead low tide to wander aimlessly, then you need to be walking back in with the incoming tide."

So, I stayed home Saturday night and wandered around PFHQ with Bear the Labrador while my buddy was wading through bioluminescent comb jellies and walking the sandspit under a spectacular moon while impressing the ladies with his newfound knowledge of marine life.

Oh well, I still found something cool ...

Growing next to the house is a volunteer native passionfruit vine (Maypops) that is doing exceedingly well this year.
Late Saturday evening, I stepped outside with a flashlight and my camera to see what might be attracted to that vine when the lights go down.

During the day, the passion vine was alive with bees, ants, wasps, hoppers, Gulf Fritillary butterflies, and Gulf Frit caterpillars.

Was it different at night I wondered?

Most things are.

The flashlight revealed lots of orange punked out Gulf Fritillary larvae clinging to the vine tendrils. They seemed to be just holding still and most were out on the curly tendrils rather than inside the vine munching on leaves.

But the really, really cool thing was this Robust Shieldback (Atlanticus gibbosus) eating a Gulf Fritillary caterpillar.


I always think of katydids as leaf munchers ... nor leaf muncher munchers!

It turns out, there's a whole category of predaceous katydids.

Who knew?
Not me, but hey,
... that is why I go out there.


Sandcastle Momma said...

What a smart boy you have! A walk like that will impress the girls a lot more than the usual stuff boys come up with. And 2 of them!

I'm curious how far out the spit is and how deep is it during high tide? Sounds like so much fun out there.

I also never knew that katydids ate caterpillars. Ya really do learn something new everyday LOL Very cool pics.

Margaret Cloud said...

I must say that picture on your blog site of Flordia reminds me of Africa.

pablo said...

Seems to me another young man wooed a young woman on a beach once. Wasn't there a shark involved?

OldHorsetailSnake said...

There's more good science on this site than there is high school, methinks.

swamp4me said...

Do my eyes deceive me? Did you actually give a common name and a scientific name for one of your Pure Florida denizens!?!
Love the picture of the cats on the tendrils, by the way.
Hope Junior impressed the ladies (I am the mother of sons, you know...)

Anonymous said...

Katydid to Pillarcide Detective: "Honest, I was just giving her mouth to mouth!" Interesting goings on the Dark Side.
Looks like your in for a big blow the way Fay is heading. But up here there's twisters, with just a possibility of one hitting. Way to much guess work with them, and no time to prepare.

Bro J

threecollie said...

Ain't it hard, yet somehow satisfying when they start to do all the fun stuff you taught 'em without you? Did they have a good time?
Carnivorous katydids! Who knew?

billg8tr said...

Great, bugs eating bugs. Show me the Gators and moccasins anytime.

Floridacracker said...

At high tide it's a submerged sandbar that catches unaware boaters, but at very low tides you can walk out for a half mile or so.

I see what you mean.

Don't you mean woo-hooed?

Well thank you sir!!

And I didn't make this one up!

Bro J,
Yes, it's nice to know ahead of time!

Yes it is. They had a blast and he got to show off his marine knowledge.

I hear and I obey.

Doug Taron said...

The carniverous katydids are mean. We tried keeping one from Arizona on live display recently. It lived less than a month, but it kept biting handlers. I don't think it's missed.

Floridacracker said...

You know ... he just looks mean.