Purple Passion Flowers and the Gulf Fritillary Butterfly

The purple passion flower (Passiflora incarnata) is a native Florida perennial with cool and funky lavender blooms. It blooms through the last spring and summer- if you don’t have too many Gulf Fritillary Butterflies! The attached photo shows our infrequent blooms and the culprit. The Butterfly lays its eggs in the foliage. The hungry caterpillars quickly devour the entire plant and leave us with stems. Just can’t bring ourselves to put pesticide on it to avoid the carnage. The butterflies rely on this plant for its lifecycle. During the summer, the plant makes a few attempts to come back only to be used as a nursery instead.  link to University of Florida extension program with more information on the plant and butterfly life cycle.  The photo of the Gulf Fritillary chrysalis looks exactly like a dried leaf, quite a contrast to the ornate green chrysalis with gold trim of the Monarch Butterfly.  Below is a photo of the bare plant after eggs were hatched and the caterpillars pillaged. You can see the green stems that will come back. The plant is also pretty good at seeding itself (to the right of the base) if it makes it all the way to the flowering stage.IMG_7407




Jack the Newfoundland

We rescued Jack last Fall and he is doing well in his new home. He guards the turtles and keeps predators away. He seems to think he is still a little puppy, weighing in at 100 pounds at less than a year old. We will see how much his coat grows in and how hot the summer is before getting out the sheep sheers! His legs are awfully long and his hip bones are still a little prominent, so no signs he is done growing yet. He has come  along way in behavior training and has a ways to go. He is very loving and plays a lot with our 3 year old Australian Shepherd. For a breed water dog, he is fairly afraid of the pool, the hot summer may change his mind.

Black Racers

Oh what a love hate relationship with the black racer. I (Lindy) am programed to fear snakes but have made an exception for these harmless snakes who are as afraid of us as we are of them. They have somewhat of a territory and apparently keep the poisonous rattle snakes away… and their skins make a funky Halloween decoration. We had a visitor in the new greenhouse before we started growing veggies and greens for the tortoises. luckily Hank is the snake charmer in the family!

Yellow Bellied Sliders

This is a yellow bellied slider, a common Florida turtle that thrives in a number of environments as well as in captivity. Commonly found at pet stores, they tend to live longer than many owners are willing to invest.  The majority of our rescues are yellow-bellied sliders from previous pet owners.  They require circulating water and much filtering to keep tanks clean.  They are omnivores and eat small gold fish, guppies and dried food, all of which can be a bit pricy over time as well. Many of our rescues have cracked shells and were found near residential areas. They can live 20 years and reach 1 foot in diameter. The bask in the sun and require UV light for proper nutrition. We keep the smaller turtles inside in tanks and take them to the bigger ponds when they are a bit stronger. We have built 3 ponds outside with beach and basking areas. Check out our tutorial on some DIY filters that have been less expensive that many store bought options. We also have 1 large tank inside and 1 on a screened in porch for the smaller rescues saved from becoming soup or pets thrown into empty house lots.  Currently we are accepting new rescues and have plans to build another pond to house new residents.