Monthly Archives: September 2016

Cactus

Cactus is usually thought of as a plant that grows in dry desert like climates but many people have grown various species of cacti in their yards as ornamental plants and they have done. very well in our wet and humid climate. There are several species of cacti that are native to Florida cactus including the Opuntia or Prickly Pear cactus. The Prickly Pear cactus can grow to over 3 ft. tall and is a sprawling green cactus with flat stems and branches and has flowers that blossom in the Spring.

My neighbor across the street collected bits and pieces of cactus that were being thrown away by other homes in the neighborhood and created a very colorful garden of a variety of cacti. Cacti have an advantage over other plants because they require little maintenance and can often survive in extreme weather conditions of heat and cold. The Gardening Solutions website from the Unlv of Fla Institute of Food and and Science provides some helpful information on growing cactus.

The species of cactus in the picture include a Yucca Cactus, Prickly Pear, Echeveria, Desert Rose, Blue Agave and another one that I haven’t identified yet. Cactus requires a dry soil that drains well and usually lots of sun. Florida’s weather suits many types of cactus because of our plentiful sunshine and well draining soil which is very sandy. The Christmas Cactus is a popular plant to give around the Christmas season because of its reddish flowers it produces.

Cactus grows well indoors in sunny locations in the home. I look for plants in a couple of popular garden stores and nurseries in the Ft. Myers area including Driftwood Nursery in South Ft. Myers on U.S. 41 and the Riverland Nursery on Rt. 80 in N. Ft. Myers.

 

 

 

 

 

Zika Bug Spray Giveaway

tiger-mosquito

tiger-mosquito – photo courtesy of UFL/IFAS Featured Creatures

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Harry Chapin Food Bank has been giving away free containers of bug spray as part of a state wide effort to prevent the spread of the Zika virus. The popular food bank has given away  22,000 bottles of bug spray and has distributed them to Southwest counties including, Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades.

The Ft. Myers News Press reported that Florida has over 900 people infected with the Zika virus as of today but most of them have contracted the virus by traveling to other countries. Most of the cases are in the Miami-Dade counties and that of the 900 cases reported thus far, 109 of them were infected here in Florida. There have been 12 reported Zika infections in Lee County and 7 in Collier county but all were by people who traveled outside the country and were infected there.

The free bug spray being distributed has the chemical Deet in it and goes by the name of “Deep Woods Off.” SW Florida and South Florida as a whole is in a sub tropical zone and has always had  a heavy concentration of mosquitoes because of the hot weather, humidity and heavy annual rainfall. Homeowners are encouraged to keep the mosquito population breeding habitats to a minimum by getting rid of anything in their yards that contains pools of standing water such as pots, toys, pools and outside containers or receptacles. The National Geographic News website provides some information about the Tiger Mosquito which is one of the nasty mosquitoes that spreads the virus. The popular bug spray “Off” is manufactured by Wisconsin based SC Johnson which is the worlds largest producer of insect repellent.

 

 

 

Green Herons

The Green Heron photographed in these pictures was taken at the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve in Ft. Myers. There are great opportunities to see and photograph Wading Birds, Song Birds and other kinds of birds of Florida at the preserve. The preserve has a one and half mile boardwalk that loops around the narrow slough which winds its way around a heavily forested swamp  which provides lots of nesting and roosting areas for birds.

            The Green Heron is a relatively small size Wading Bird but has pretty colors such as a velvet green back, a chestnut brown chest and yellow legs. They perch themselves on branches or some object above shallow waters in lakes, ponds, estuaries and other bodies of water and snatch their prey with their sharp bills. They also feed upon insects, amphibians and other marine invertebrates. The Green Heron is  one of the few birds which uses tools such as lures to catch their food. They may use bread crusts, worms or insects which they drop on the surface of the water and wait for fish to come up to the surface which they then catch with their bills.

            The All About Birds website states that the oldest Green Heron found was estimated to be 8 years old when it was seen in Mexico. The website has very useful information for bird watchers and others wanting to learn more about birds in Florida and North America. They also have an audio clip of the birds sounds and calls. Birds that may look like the Green Heron in S. Florida are the Least Bittern, Black Crowned Night Heron and Yellow Crown Night Heron.