Brown anole in Jamaica

Brown anole in Jamaica – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This little anole is a type of lizard native to the Bahamas and Cuba. However, it is easily spotted on many other Caribbean Islands. It is a highly invasive species and easily outcompetes other small lizards and frogs because it will eat anything that can fit into its mouth. Like other lizards, they will communicate through mostly visual displays. When angry or threatened they expand the flap of skin on their throat to display an orange and yellow warning and perform some push ups. If the threat continues, they will bite, urinate and defecate, but also have the ability to detach their tail as a moving decoy to facilitate their escape from a predator. These traits are what makes this little lizard a very skilled survivor.

Sometimes blending in is more important than standing out

Black and white butterflies – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Looking at this photograph I started to wonder –  What is the difference between a butterfly and a moth? Simple, right? Not so much. For every rule, there are always exceptions and this is no different. However, here are some of the (exceptions aside) differences between moths and butterflies.

Butterflies are generally a day creature (diurnal) while moths prefer the night (nocturnal). Due to this distinction, moths are usually colored grey, black and brown, while butterflies generally show off brilliantly colored wings. Butterflies have slender bodies and long, thin antennae with a club-shaped end, while moths are stout and furry and have feather-like antennae. Butterflies rest with their wings up (like the butterfly in this image), whereas moths rest with wings down. During metamorphosis, moths make a silk cocoon, whereas butterflies make a smooth and hard chrysalis.

Although these are the general rules, this particular butterfly is not so brightly colored, and for the most part sat with wings down against this tree (see image below). I think these traits ensure successful camouflage with the bark of this tree, and therefore a greater likelihood this butterfly evades predation. This reminded me of the classic evolutionary tale of the peppered moths (for more info follow this link).

Butterfly Flattened – Photography by Laura Lecce

A flag footed bug from Belize

Flag footed bug – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This brilliantly colored bug from Belize is called a flag footed bug and is also known as a leaf footed bug (Anisocelis flavolineata). It is found throughout Central America and comes in a variety of brilliant colors. There is very little information about them online, except that they can fly and are relatively harmless to humans. Although they can bite if provoked and it will sting a bit. The festive colors of this insect make it the perfect bug for the holiday season. Enjoy!

Friday Fungi

Golden Fungi – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This picture perfect fungi was spotted while hiking in Quebec. I am always on the lookout for a beautiful mushroom to photograph, which usually results in me lying on the ground with my camera, this one however was on the side of a tree. I have yet to see a cartoon-style red toadstool with white spots which are common in the UK,  but hopefully one day. Fungi are a fascinating group of living organisms which behave differently to plants. They begin from a tiny microscopic spore which needs nutrient rich soil to grow, as it cannot make energy from chlorophyll like plants. Unlike plants and animals which use mostly cell division to grow, a slow and energy consuming process, mushrooms grow quite fast. Their ability to grow fast is because their cells balloon in size by drawing in large amounts of liquid, and is also why mushrooms need to grow in wet and humid areas. They are essentially a water balloon of about 90% water, and can be easily dehydrated and rehydrated for storing and cooking. Needless to say not all mushrooms are safe to eat, so never touch or eat wild mushrooms unless you know for sure that it is a safe kind of mushroom to eat.

For other mushrooms, click here.

Friday Flower – A close look at a zinnia

Zinnia close up – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Sometimes it’s more interesting to look at something familiar from a different perspective to gain renewed appreciation. Have you ever looked at a zinnia this close before? I discovered a tiny forest of golden furry trees arranged in a perfect circle surrounded by a bed of brilliant red petals. Each yellow tree has a trunk filled with nectar that attracts bees, butterflies and moths. Each visitor gets a secret powdering of yellow pollen to transport to subsequent flowers, unknowingly becoming a pollen postal service. I go the garden to relax, unwind and refresh my mind, and while everything around me may seem tranquil, it is in fact the opposite – each and every flower, every insect and every plant is very hard at work.

Red zinnia – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Friday Flower – Pink with an Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly

Eastern Black Swallowtail – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Ok, so this photo is not so much about a flower as it about the stunning black butterfly perched delicately on these tiny pink flowers. Those large dark wings with golden circles and a powdering of shimmery blue. The signature elongated wing tips of a swallowtale and delicate lines of white dots along the abdomen. This butterfly truly turns heads as it flutters past and really tested my patience as I waited for it to sit still long enough for a photo that was in focus. I will dearly miss the warmer months this year as the weather is already getting too cold for my liking, and we still have so much further to go into the cold abyss of winter. Have a warm weekend everyone!

For more butterflies please click here.