Well, let me start with a thanks to my brother-in-law, Forry, who caught some misinformation that I inadvertently published. The fish that had been identified as a "flounder" in my last post is indeed a Scrawled Filefish. (Learn more by checking this and anything else mentioned on the blog on the web.)
As we walk along the bridges we encounter many people fishing, and in the case of the "flounder" I took someone's word as truth. Often a dangerous thing to do!
We spend quite a bit of time at the Bahia Honda State Park and often are just captivated by the color and the beauty surrounding us.
Along the park pathway to the bridge overlook we encountered a plant called the "Nickerbean Plant". The rangers here identify the plant with this name although I have had difficulty finding it under that name in our nature guides. This plant is a host plant for the endangered Miami Blue Butterfly.
In addition to this exotic looking plant, we sometimes are greeted at the gate with a warning about the "jellyfish" washed up on the shore. These are the Portugese Man-of-War variety and the sting can be very uncomfortable. The suggestions from the park staff include scraping the burning area with a credit card to remove the "jelly", use vinegar to reduce the sting, and avoid any contact with them in the future. They certainly are a beautiful blue, with pink edges, and we can imagine that they would really attract children playing on the beach.
Another adventure, took us south away from the state park on the Overseas Highway to check out an "attraction" in the lower keys. In 1929, a developer named Richter Pelkey wanted to build a resort on Sugarloaf Key but was deterred by the mosquitos. He learned that bats love to eat these insects, so he decided to build a large bat tower (I would guess it is 35-40 feet tall) and hoped that many bats would arrive, eat the mosquitos, and that riches would soon follow. After it was built however, it did not seem to be working, so the story is that he added some bat attractant "?" but still no bats ever came. As far as we know, he never built his resort, but one enterprising Osprey loves to call it home. I hope you can see the nest on top. One of the parents was sitting in the nest during our visit.
This leads me to the final creature that I need to tell you about. Latona and I were sitting under one of the trees in our site, the common Green Buttonwood, when I realized that my hand was starting to burn, and ache. When I looked at my t-shirt near my stomach, I saw a teardrop shaped caterpillar (about two inches in length) covered in brown fur with a white strip down it back and a few white patches on the rump end. I wasn't sure the two events were connected, but my hand really started to hurt but it never swelled up. Latona put the creature in a cup, in case we needed to check it out. My hand was developing a reddish area between my thumb and forefinger so our neighbor gave me some ice for my hand and I took some benedryl.
Two neat things are part of the story. We have some entomologists staying in the campground and also a nurse camped a few spots away. We gave the caterpillar to the scientists, and the nurse monitored my heart rate. Although the pain went up my arm, it never swelled up or felt alarming. We took some pictures of the creature and sent it to a person at the Florida Extension who identified it as a Puff Caterpillar or the Asp. When I read about it on the internet, one article identified it as the most toxic stinging caterpillar in North America. Whew! The pain lasted for 18 hours but never progressed, so I guess I survived. I still have an autograph on my hand where the little spines stuck into me when I rubbed my hand against it on my shirt. Another life warning, I guess, is to watch out for some "cute things". One note about how to deal with this is to try to pick out the microscopic little spines with tweezers, or put a piece of taped over the area and try to pull some of them out of the skin. The credit card idea doesn't work since the toxic is not 'on the skin' but 'in the skin'.
Thanks for sharing our news and thoughts. It is fun to think about sharing with you each week. Now it is time to say goodbye from these two creatures...Love and hugs from the Duo