Thursday, October 04, 2012

Invaders (Most Likely)


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Unfortunately, I suspect these two are juvenile Cuban Treefrogs (Osteopilus septentrionalis), an invasive species. Indicators are their large eyes, warty skin, the white stripe on the frog at foreground left, and (as seen below) large toepads. I'm awaiting ID confirmation. Among other things, Cuban Treefrogs feed on this area's native frog population.

To give an idea of size, the inside width of my mailbox measures 5-3/4 inches.

These two individuals have taken up residence inside the mailbox. The above set of photos dates from September 30, and likely shows the same frogs that I had photographed on September 26, when I wondered if they were Squirrel Treefrogs.

The photos below date from October 4 and are of a single individual that had perched on the inside of the door when I opened it to get my mail. The second frog (not photographed today) was inside and at the back of the mailbox.


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According to the University of Florida, "Cuban Treefrog skin secretes a mucus that can irritate eyes and nose, cause allergy-like symptoms, and even trigger asthma attacks; they breed loudly after midnight in pools, ponds, birdbaths, etc.; they invade toilets and can clog drains; they invade power boxes and cause power outages."


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I started hearing the song of this species several months ago, first (it seemed) from across the street, then outside the house, and also around a nearby retention pond. I'm more accustomed to hearing Squirrel Treefrogs around the house.

Squirrel Treefrogs are native to this area, but they and other native species are being displaced by the Cuban Treefrogs. Unlike the frogs pictured here, native treefrogs are smooth-skinned.


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According to UF, Cuban Treefrogs are native to Cuba, the Cayman Islands, and the Bahamas. Their range has expanded throughout the Caribbean, in Hawaii, and in Florida, with a possible isolated population in southeastern Texas.


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According to Dr. Steve A. Johnson of UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, "The first Cuban Treefrogs in Florida likely arrived as stowaways in shipping crates originating from the Caribbean. By the mid-1970s, they had dispersed throughout most of southern Florida. As of 2010, there appear to be established breeding populations as far north as Cedar Key on Florida's Gulf Coast, Jacksonville on the Atlantic Coast, and Gainesville in north-central Florida" ("The Cuban Treefrog (Osteopilus septentrionalis) in Florida") That northern boundary is about 60 miles north of the frogs photographed here.

Johnson continues, "A scientific paper published by German biologists in 2009 suggested that human-caused climate change may create conditions suitable for Cuban Treefrog colonization and breeding and allow this frog to become established across much of the southeastern U.S."

Compare the shot above with Johnson's figure showing the difference between the toepads of native treefrogs and those of the Cuban Treefrog. This UF photo of a Cuban Treefrog eating a Green Treefrog also shows the difference in toepad size.


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This one seems to be giving me the finger.

"Invasive Cuban Treefrogs eat a wide variety of food items, including snails, millipedes, spiders, and a vast array of insects," writes Johnson. "They are predators of several of Florida's native frogs, and are cannibalistic. They are also known to eat lizards and even small snakes. Fortunately, several species of native snakes will eat Cuban Treefrogs, including rat snakes, Black Racers, Pygmy Rattlesnakes, and Garter Snakes. Owls, crows, and wading birds have also been seen feeding on Cuban Treefrogs."

When I weed-whacked the yard last month I saw a Black Racer ribboning across my back porch -- far too quickly for me to photograph (let alone get my camera out). I did, however, manage to photograph this individual in 2007. Black Racers are beneficial. They prey on vermin, so I'm thrilled whenever I see one.

As for the birds Johnson mentions, we have plenty of crows in the neighborhood, along with seasonal wading birds (especially White Ibises and Cattle Egrets). Once in a great while I hear a Great Horned Owl.


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By this point I was crouching in the road, taking photographs from beneath my mailbox. I won't speculate on what, if anything, went through the minds of the couple of people who drove down my street at that time.

Johnson writes, "Cuban Treefrogs are the largest species of treefrog in Florida, and adult females may exceed 6 inches in length. Most Cuban Treefrogs, however, range from 1–4 inches long." Furthermore, "A very large female may lay in excess of 15,000 eggs in one season....Acceptable breeding sites include isolated wetlands, ditches, decorative ponds, and even swimming pools that are neglected. Cuban Treefrogs can breed in surprisingly small amounts of water. An old ice chest or child's wading pool half full of water are suitable nurseries for Cuban Treefrog tadpoles to develop into frogs."


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Unlike native treefrogs, which rarely enter houses, Cuban Treefrogs aren't shy. "Cuban Treefrogs can enter homes in a variety of ways," Johnson writes. "They may jump through open doors or windows, be brought into a house inadvertently on an ornamental plant, or get into a home's plumbing system through vent pipes on the roof. When Cuban Treefrogs gain access through vent pipes of a home plumbing system, they usually end up in a bathroom. There are numerous instances where unsuspecting people have opened the lid to their toilet only to find a bug-eyed Cuban Treefrog staring up at them." They can also get into transformer boxes and electrical switches and cause a short circuit.


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It's now clear to me that one way the frogs get into the mailbox is through a rather large gap between the hinged door and the box itself.

Johnson's article details ways to capture and humanely euthanize Cuban Treefrogs, but cautions the reader to be sure that they are indeed the invasive species and not a native treefrog. His lab has a Citizen Science page where frog ID can be confirmed and activities reported.

Elissa Malcohn's Deviations and Other Journeys
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Vol. 1, Deviations: Covenant (2nd Ed.), Vol. 2, Deviations: Appetite, Vol. 3, Deviations: Destiny, Vol. 4, Deviations: Bloodlines, Vol. 5, Deviations: TelZodo, Vol. 6 and conclusion: Deviations: Second Covenant.
Free downloads at the Deviations website (click here for alternate link), Smashwords, and Manybooks.
Proud participant, Operation E-Book Drop (provides free e-books to personnel serving overseas. Logo from the imagination and graphic artistry of K.A. M'Lady & P.M. Dittman); Books For Soldiers (ships books and more to deployed military members of the U.S. armed forces); and Shadow Forest Authors (a fellowship of authors and supporters for charity, with a focus on literacy).
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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Clouds (Photo Heavy)


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Mary and I were in the county seat on Thursday and got quite the sky show! First, from the municipal parking lot:

Cloud curtain


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Clouds and contrail


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From the park:

Cloud curtain (facing the road)


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Close-up 1 (facing the road)


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Close-up 2 (facing the road)


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Close-up 3 (facing the road)


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Above the lake


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Close-up 4 (above the lake)


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Lake panorama


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Back toward the road


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Close-up 5


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Elissa Malcohn's Deviations and Other Journeys
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Vol. 1, Deviations: Covenant (2nd Ed.), Vol. 2, Deviations: Appetite, Vol. 3, Deviations: Destiny, Vol. 4, Deviations: Bloodlines, Vol. 5, Deviations: TelZodo, Vol. 6 and conclusion: Deviations: Second Covenant.
Free downloads at the Deviations website (click here for alternate link), Smashwords, and Manybooks.
Proud participant, Operation E-Book Drop (provides free e-books to personnel serving overseas. Logo from the imagination and graphic artistry of K.A. M'Lady & P.M. Dittman); Books For Soldiers (ships books and more to deployed military members of the U.S. armed forces); and Shadow Forest Authors (a fellowship of authors and supporters for charity, with a focus on literacy).
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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Frog Trifecta!


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Our neighborhood frogs are having a banner year.

The pair above got into one of our porch lights on September 3. We'd gotten rain earlier that day, and from the calls I'd heard I suspect these are squirrel treefrogs (Hyla squirella). Rain encourages them to express themselves.

"Found throughout Florida and in the Keys on buildings and in shrubs and trees in urbanized and natural areas, including hardwood hammocks, bottomland and floodplain forests and swamps, pine-oak forests, and pine flatwoods," says the University of Florida. "Like other treefrogs, this species has enlarged, sticky toepads."

That explains how this pair was able to climb the wall. This porch light has had a hard time holding onto its finial, which explains how they were able to get inside. (Some years ago our other porch light had sported remnants of a bird nest inside.)

The UF page includes a link to the USGS Frog Call Lookup, where you can hear this species' "raspy and somewhat duck-like call."

On September 16, I spotted three frogs inside one of our hurricane shutters:


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I finally got a usable image at f2.8 with a 1/4-second exposure, freehand. Otherwise I was getting all screen.

I don't know whether these are also squirrel treefrogs, but they shared this space with a family of squirrels, including two kits. This is a video still from September 10:



You can view the squirrel kits in action here.

Likewise, I don't know if the frogs in our mailbox are juvenile squirrel treefrogs (given their smaller size) or a different species entirely. I took this shot on September 26:


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Someone made the mistake of asking me, "How do frogs get into your mailbox?" To which I answered, "Why, Special Delivery of course!"

Elissa Malcohn's Deviations and Other Journeys
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Vol. 1, Deviations: Covenant (2nd Ed.), Vol. 2, Deviations: Appetite, Vol. 3, Deviations: Destiny, Vol. 4, Deviations: Bloodlines, Vol. 5, Deviations: TelZodo, Vol. 6 and conclusion: Deviations: Second Covenant.
Free downloads at the Deviations website (click here for alternate link), Smashwords, and Manybooks.
Proud participant, Operation E-Book Drop (provides free e-books to personnel serving overseas. Logo from the imagination and graphic artistry of K.A. M'Lady & P.M. Dittman); Books For Soldiers (ships books and more to deployed military members of the U.S. armed forces); and Shadow Forest Authors (a fellowship of authors and supporters for charity, with a focus on literacy).
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Sunday, September 09, 2012

Recent Work



My digital collage "Sunset Flight" is in the Second Annual Caregiving Art Show, up through September 15, 2012. The art show benefits Caregiving.com and its CareGifters Program, which provides small grants to caregivers in need.

All butterflies except for the one at lower right (photographed here) are taken from my Florida Museum of Natural History and Butterfly Rainforest photoset. The statue comes from this photograph. I photographed the sunset here.

My photography also appears in two CareGifters series books: Comedy:



and Forgiveness, including the cover image:



Proceeds from the sale of the CareGifters books benefit the CareGifters Program. Ebooks are just $5.

The longest poem I've written to date (a glosa cycle of 300+ lines) has come out in The Fifth Di... 14(3):



You can read "Last Rites" here.

My poem "Attack of the Giant Spiders" appears in Eye To The Telescope #5 (LGBTQ Speculative Poetry, edited by Stephen M. Wilson). Poems "When Zombies Go Steady" and "The Bot's Dilemma, Upon the Death of Earth" appear in ETTT #4 (Speculative Poetry in Form, edited by Lester Smith).



"The Last Dragon Slayer," which originally appeared in Mythic Delirium #24, was a 2012 Rhysling Award nominee, appearing in this year's anthology.



Two of my poems appear in Exploring the Cosmos: minimalist science poetry. Both were originally posted on my blog: "Partial Solar Eclipse" and "Grand Raiment."



Exploring the Cosmos is a trifold sampler provided by the Science Fiction Poetry Association. You can download a .pdf of this and more samplers here.

Elissa Malcohn's Deviations and Other Journeys
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Vol. 1, Deviations: Covenant (2nd Ed.), Vol. 2, Deviations: Appetite, Vol. 3, Deviations: Destiny, Vol. 4, Deviations: Bloodlines, Vol. 5, Deviations: TelZodo, Vol. 6 and conclusion: Deviations: Second Covenant.
Free downloads at the Deviations website (click here for alternate link), Smashwords, and Manybooks.
Proud participant, Operation E-Book Drop (provides free e-books to personnel serving overseas. Logo from the imagination and graphic artistry of K.A. M'Lady & P.M. Dittman); Books For Soldiers (ships books and more to deployed military members of the U.S. armed forces); and Shadow Forest Authors (a fellowship of authors and supporters for charity, with a focus on literacy).
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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Wildlife Friday

Approaching home after errands, I saw this:


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It had first been on the road. From a distance it looked like plant matter, and then I wondered if I were seeing a squirrel, and then I was all Holy moly, it's a gopher tortoise! Hey, get off the road, sweetie! Don't get squished!

I passed it, drove on a bit farther, parked on the grass by a retention pond, grabbed my camera, and headed back toward the tortoise. When it saw me coming it toddled off the road and onto a neighbor's yard...


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... where I got down on my knees, rump in the air, and leaned forward with my camera on zoom.


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Gopherus polyphemus. This species is now threatened in Florida and several other states, according to the University of Florida. "Scientists believe that gopher tortoises deserve protection, since they play an important role in many Florida ecosystems. They dig deep burrows that are also used by other animals like indigo snakes, foxes, and burrowing owls. The tortoises also graze on low-growing plants and help spread their seeds."


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It toddled farther into the yard. Watching it from grass height as I took this video, I couldn't help thinking of a baby in a diaper. This individual seemed slightly smaller than the 12" size stated in my National Audubon Society Field Guide to Florida.



This is probably the fourth time I've seen a gopher tortoise since we moved here. It's the second time I've taken a video of one (better quality than my first video, taken six years ago from farther away).

The skies opened up a few minutes later. When we get sudden downpours here, it's as though the weather gods have aimed a pressure washer at the place.

After the rain, I spotted a cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis) in the retention pond near home.


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The photos don't show it, but this is a female in breeding coloration (buff spots on her head, front, and back). She was on the opposite side of the pond from me, so I took this at full zoom.


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"The Cattle Egret is native to Africa and Asia, and only reached the Americas in the late 19th century," according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. It is now "one of the most abundant of the North American herons."

I was in the middle of taking this video when a couple of white ibises (Eudocimus albus) flew in to join her.



At a shade over 12 minutes, this is one of my longer videos. Gradually, I made my way closer and closer to the birds.


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The white ibis (Eudocimus albus, Family Threskiornithidae) "is frequently seen on lawns looking for large insects as well as probing for prey along the shoreline," says the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.


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I wasn't far from the water at this point, on my knees. This is probably the closest I've ever gotten to ibises.


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This is a fast-draining retention pond. Even following that torrential rain, I was kneeling in some pretty dry mud.

The banks of the pond were covered in these pretty daisies:


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This was my view climbing out:


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Elissa Malcohn's Deviations and Other Journeys
Promote Your Page Too
Vol. 1, Deviations: Covenant (2nd Ed.), Vol. 2, Deviations: Appetite, Vol. 3, Deviations: Destiny, Vol. 4, Deviations: Bloodlines, Vol. 5, Deviations: TelZodo, Vol. 6 and conclusion: Deviations: Second Covenant.
Free downloads at the Deviations website (click here for alternate link), Smashwords, and Manybooks.
Proud participant, Operation E-Book Drop (provides free e-books to personnel serving overseas. Logo from the imagination and graphic artistry of K.A. M'Lady & P.M. Dittman); Books For Soldiers (ships books and more to deployed military members of the U.S. armed forces); and Shadow Forest Authors (a fellowship of authors and supporters for charity, with a focus on literacy).
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