After a cloudy and breezy start, the day brightened into a warm sunny day. At about 4pm I decided to take a walk at the nature reserve before it got dark.
As I started my walk through the tropical hardwood hammock, this beautiful iridescent blue
moth butterfly fluttered around my head and landed on a leaf right next to me. He then patiently sat still while I flustered with my camera and managed to get a few shots. I have searched the internet for his name but as yet he is unidentified – anyone an expert on Florida Keys moths? (Yes, Doug is – see below).
As I made my way along the sandy path (the whole of the island was a coral reef many thousands of years ago) I came across an insect that I had filmed the day before.
As you can see above, this red wasp (again I don’t know it’s name, but I think it is a type of digger wasp) is sat outside his hole. He is actually kicking sand into the hole to fill it in.
From what I can make out these wasps dig a hole, lay an egg, capture a live spider, paralyse it, put it in the hole and bury it. The young wasps then feed on the fresh spider when they hatch… a bit gruesome but fascinating to watch.
By the time I got to the end of the trail the sun was starting to set and I just managed to get a picture of this dead tree on the beach. A lot of the trees were killed by hurricane Wilma a couple of years ago (as we nearly were!). Although normally salt-water tolerant, they can’t take a constant battering. However, this one was just too gorgeous not to photograph.
Since I wrote this post I’ve found out from Doug at Blue-Grey (thanks so much for the info Doug) that the “moth” is in fact a “butterfly” – called a Mangrove Skipper. About 10cm across and lives on mangrove bushes with it’s brown female mate. The males are very territorial and chase off any other male interlopers. The eggs are laid on the mangrove leaves and live off them once hatched. No wonder I saw it perched on a mangrove leaf!