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HIEROGLYPHIC CICADA

Of the 19 species of cicadas occurring in Florida, this is the earliest to be heard each year, present from late spring through early summer.

The range extends throughout the southeastern United States, west into Louisiana, plus Kansas and Missouri. In Florida these cicadas can be found at least as far south as Sebring, possibly farther.
A medium sized cicada, with a forewing length from 23 - 32 mm (0.9 - 1.25 in.). The four other Florida cicadas of this size are in the Diceroprocta genus. Neocicada hieroglyphica has a distinctive green and black pattern on the upper parts of the body; the head, pronotum, and thorax. The abdomen is usually brown, sometimes brownish-black, and the underside is pale green to whitish. Wings are clear with pale green to dark veins.
Hieroglyphic cicadas are frequently found in forest habitat, and are reported to be partial to oaks. The cicada pictured here was on Gaillardia in a coastal habitat.
The song starts with a sequence of progressively softer whiny bursts and ends with an even whine.



BARTRAM'S IXIA

This rare perennial wildflower of grassy, wet to mesic flatwoods is found only in northeast Florida.

Appearing grass-like and nondescript when not in bloom, the stem is 20-40 cm (8-16 in.) tall. Basal leaves are few and narrow, shorter than the stem. Cauline leaves are less than 9 cm (3-1/2 in.) long and scattered on the stem. Calydorea caelestina flowers are blue-violet, up to 6.3 cm (2-1/2 in.) across. Each flower opens only once early in the morning mostly during the spring and early summer, then closes by mid-morning. Bartram's ixia will bloom at other times of the year, especially following a fire. The style body is white, clavate and branching towards the tip, with three purple, flattened, fan shaped stigma lobes. The three conspicuous stamens are yellow with elongated anthers. The fruit is a green capsule 2 cm (0.8 in.) long.
The six tepals are broader and less pointed than the fall-flowering ixia, or celestial lily. Celestial lilies are found south of Bartram's ixia, in the east-central peninsula and they bloom in the afternoon in late summer or fall.



EASTERN HACKBERRY BUTTERFLY

Also known as hackberry emperor, these butterflies are easily attracted to sap flows, as in this photograph of a butterfly on a white oak trunk.

Asterocampa celtis is resident throughout much of the eastern United States, the central plains, southwest mountains and northern Mexico. Two subspecies can be found in Florida. A. celtis celtis inhabits the panhandle region. Reinthal's hackberry butterfly - A. celtis reinthali - is larger and ranges through the Florida peninsula.
These light brown butterflies have white spots on the forewing and a single eyespot on the outer edge of the forewing. The hindwing has six smaller eyespots, the undersides of these have green centers. Wingspans range from 4.4 to 6.2 cm (1-3/4 to 2-1/2 in.) with the females being larger.
Host plants are the various hackberries (Celtis spp.) and sugarberry (Celtis laevigata).



BOYKIN'S MILKWORT

A perennial herb of rockland pinelands, wet prairies and flatwoods along the west coast of Florida from Miami-Dade to Taylor County, Polygala boykinii is also found in Leon, Gadsden and Jackson Counties.

The range includes southwest Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, plus two counties in central Tennessee.
The inflorescence consists of terminal cylindrical spikes of small greenish-white flowers with three fused petals, the lower petal fringed. Stems to 64 cm (25 in.) tall with whorled, linear to elliptic leaves, the lower ones reduced. The fruit is a spherical capsule.
Polygala is the only genus of the milkwort family occurring in Florida, but it is well represented, with 23 species in the state.
This species is named after Samuel Boykin (1786-1846), a physician and botanist from Georgia.



LEAST TERN

These small terns can be seen along the Florida coasts from late spring through the summer.

The summer range extends along the southeastern coast from Texas through the mid-Atlantic, from the central California coast into the Baja Peninsula, throughout the Caribbean, and along major river systems into the interior of the continent. Winters are spent along the northern coasts of South America.
Least terns are 23 cm (9 in.) long with a wingspan of 50 cm (20 in.), making them the smallest in North America. Breeding plumage from March through august exhibits a black cap with white forehead extending to near the eye. The back is light gray and the underside is white. Wings are relatively long and narrow with two black primaries. The bill is long, tapered, slightly recurved and yellow, sometimes with a black tip. Non-breeding plumage includes white on top of the head, with the black reduced to an eyestripe and the back of the head. Th bill is black. Juveniles have U-shaped barring on the back, otherwise similar to winter adult.
Sterna antillarum traditionally nested along barrier island beaches and isolated stretches on mainland shores. With these areas becoming reduced by development and disturbed by human activity, least terns have adopted by utilizing flat gravel roofs near the coast and other water bodies. The mating ritual starts with the male tern showing off a fish to a prospective female. He will continue to hold the fish in his beak during mating, after which he will feed it to the female tern.



FLORIDA TORREYA

A rare evergreen shrub to small tree of rich wooded ravines in only three counties of Florida: Gadsden, Liberty and Jackson, and Decatur County in Georgia.

Also called stinking cedar and Florida nutmeg, it is listed as both US and Florida endangered.
Formerly growing up to 10 m tall, the native populations now mainly consist of saplings and sprouts due to a disease that was first recognized in the 1930s. The leaves are linear, glossy-green and needle-like, with sharply pointed tips. The branches are in whorls along the trunk, helping to distinguish this species from Florida yew. The seeds are completely enclosed in a fleshy green glaucous aril with purple stripes, superficially resembling a nutmeg.