http://www.blogger.com/html?blogID=4316350785635987648 Cave Dwellings: No Hear 'EM, No Speak ‘EM, No See ‘EM…No Like ‘EM!

Everglades National Park, FL

Everglades National Park, FL
Loop Road

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

No Hear 'EM, No Speak ‘EM, No See ‘EM…No Like ‘EM!

  The last two days we have been blessed with 85 degree days and 65 degree nights.  The sun has been bright and the sky almost cloudless.   Our campsite has been full of birds, and I have a few more interesting photos…(Those who are not fond of birds, talk amongst yourselves for a minute….)

101_1339101_1343101_1357

Altamira Oriole…….                              Verdin………….                                                Olive Sparrow……

We also discovered a different critter living across the street from us…He isn’t very friendly, and seems to have this hard “shell” about him..

101_1337101_1336

DUDE!! TAKE OF THE ARMOR SUIT, WE COME IN PEACE!!! He is giving me a look out of the corner of his eye…Think I better leave him to his stand offish ways…What a party pooper!

We have decided to take our walks earlier in the morning when it is this warm out…like before 10AM..If we wait too late, we are joined by the dreaded “No See’em”s, who are gnatty almost invisible black specs that sleep in late and stay up late, doing lots of biting in between…They joined me today while I was soaking up some sun…FYI, When the No See’ems land on a sweaty leg, they stick and bite, and ya gotta scrape ‘em off..OH JOY.

Here’s another delightful group who are making our “back yard” their permanent  home, and gathering from the parade they have every day, they intend to stay a while…

101_1413

 

If you squint ( or adjust your bifocals) you can barely see what is called a Leaf Cutting Ant, carrying , what else, A LEAF…and one that is 6 or more times his size..Let me give you a quick Wikipedia lesson about these ambitious workers..

“Next to humans, leafcutter ants form the largest and most complex animal societies on Earth. In a few years, the central mound of their underground nests can grow to more than 30 metres (98 ft) across, with smaller, radiating mounds extending out to a radius of 80 metres (260 ft), taking up 30 to 600 square metres (320 to 6,500 sq ft) and containing eight million individuals.”…and I think we have at least that many just outside our camper. WHOA!!!

Dennis discovered these “leaf haulers” 2 days ago, when he followed the long line of them, one line going into the brush, (a distance of 30 ft,) and the other line of ants, right next to that line, was coming back, each with a piece of leaf or some other vegetation…

”In a mature leafcutter colony, ants are divided into castes, based mostly on size, that perform different functions.Their societies are based on an ant-fungus mutualism, and different species of ants use different species of fungus, but all of the fungi the ants use are members of the Lepiotaceae family. The ants actively cultivate their fungus, feeding it with freshly cut plant material and keeping it free from pests and molds.”  (these guys AREN’T pests?)  “The fungus needs the ants to stay alive, and the larvae need the fungus to stay alive  ”…Short form is..they are growing fungus to eat..kinda like farmers growing crops only without tractors..Guess what else they use in their “fungus farm”???…

101_1423  

Hope ya don’t have a weak stomach, or an aversion to 6 legged critters..Just to let you know, they totally cleaned this orange up in no time…and “are capable of defoliating an entire citrus tree in less than 24 hours”…YIKES! Welcome to the neighborhood Atta Cephalotes..(No, that isn’t Spanish for ant, it’s their scientific name!)…You’ll pardon me if I don’t bring brownies over to your house. (There IS a fungus amongus!)

When we were in Roma the other day, I noticed how many homes had walls or fences around them down here…This is due to the heavy Spanish influence dating back many, many years ago…

101_1395101_1396101_1398

Some are very ornate masonry or brick and wrought iron..and some are just chain link…

101_1399101_1400101_1409

The photo on the left was taken “on the fly” turning around after going down a dead end street by accident…This is not something that is very safe OR smart around here ..but McGyver and I are not known to be either Rolling on the floor laughing.

101_1407

This last one is a home on Rt. 83, almost where we turn into the park…

OK, while I was busily blogging , we had a knock at our camper door…What the H--- did I do now??  Surprise, surprise…A couple of nice folks, Bill and Sharon, read our blog and just pulled in down from us a couple spots…How about that for a shocker…Sharon said she is a “lurker”, which is defined by her as someone who reads blogs, but never comments.  She is trying to start a blog of her own and isn’t quite sure how to do it..My advice?? Just jump in and start talking..She and Bill are full timers and have a Hughesnet just like we do…

101_1429

Nice to meet ya, Sharon and Bill..Please excuse my clothes, or lack thereof..(I was still in my “sunning ensemble” and probably would get arrested for it in most campgrounds.Surprised smile

So, this blog was a bit of a “ Biology Class” with an emphasis on bugs, ants, and armored tanks with legs….It is almost cocktail hour at the Cave Dwellings, and I am in much need of a hose down after sitting outside in the sun today. I guess Sharon and Bill are only staying a couple days here, but we will try to check in with them tomorrow…I’m hoping to change “first impressions” with an actual outfit consiting of shorts, a T-shirt and shoes…Good luck with that, right???? Winking smile

11 comments:

  1. Was that you in your sunning outfit,I happened to look up out of the back of the GMC and thought I saw a flash of flesh, being the gentleman I am I covered my eyes , sheesh a little warning next time, you don't want to scare any nearby kids'. Be safe out there. Sam & Donna..

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nice pics and id's of the local birds, junior bird nerd!

    I wasn't as fond of the ant encrusted orange, however. :P

    ReplyDelete
  3. butterbean carpenterJanuary 17, 2012 at 8:48 PM

    Howdy D&D,
    Thanx for the biology lesson on some of our more industrious creatures!!
    If you'd left the orange where the 9-banded Armadillo could get to it, it would have thanked you for 'baiting' the ants to where it could easily eat them for supper(thatz Texan for dinner) Dennis, the Armadillos root the ground up and get all of the grubs out of your garden.. Their eyesight is almost as bad as Donna's.. Thatz why they stand on their hind legs and 'look' at you..

    ReplyDelete
  4. Well, that was different!! I don't particularly like ants (or any kind of bug) but I do have a grudging respect for their industriousness. You're getting pretty good at getting the nice bird pictures.

    ReplyDelete
  5. You take the best wildlife photos! Have never seen an armadillo, not even in a zoo!

    Mike and Dee
    gonerving.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm stil waiting for a shipment of colorful Texas birds over here in Arizona. You can keep the ants but Army the Armadillo is welcome so throw him in the box & send him along.....

    ReplyDelete
  7. Love the oriole pic....soo pretty
    P>S> Sam is STILL sitting on my lap

    ReplyDelete
  8. Until we saw your pictures, we never knew armadillos as anything but flattened things along Texas highways. You mean they come inflated and upright?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Until we saw your pictures, we never knew armadillos as anything but flattened things along Texas highways. You mean they come inflated and upright?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Nice 'bug' pics!! The bird photos are excellent even though I can't tell a woodpecker from a robin.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks for the biology lesson, sounds like you're a lifelong learner like myself. I had a photographer come in to the office for his eye exam and I got all geeked out...turned out he was a commercial photographer, so not as exciting as I thought. When he asked what kind of photography I dabbled in and I said wildlife and landscape his response was "wildlife? Really? Why?" Why??? Like you, I love observing them and finding out why they do those crazy things they do. Thanks to butterbean carpenter also for the lesson on armadillo baiting, that might come in handy someday!

    ReplyDelete