March 9 - 13, 2008
It was really nice to get an extra week of spring by driving out of winter. Some highlights of the trip were dragonflies and damselflies at Tickfaw State Park, including a Stream Cruiser (Didymops transversa) and lots of Fragile Forktails (Ischnura posita). The forktails were common everyplace we went – even in my parents' yard. Butterflies at Tickfaw included quite a few Southern Pearly-eyes (Enodia portlandia).
Everywhere we went – but especially Mandalay National Wildlife Refuge – had way more lizards than I cared to see. We also had to turn around on the Mandalay trail midway one day when we couldn't get around a water moccasin. We had lunch, and returned to the trail and then made it to the end since the snake had left the bridge it was sunning itself on. From the wharf at the end, we saw the biggest alligator I've ever seen while out hiking – I'd guess about 15' long.
The best sighting at Mandalay was a bee mimic robber fly (Laphria sp.). Unfortunately, I had to be satisfied with using a doubler on my lens, shooting from 8' away at an insect higher than my head and cropping the photos. But since it was the only one in the genus I'd ever seen, I was still glad to get the shot. We also saw a few skippers, including this Least Skipper (Ancyloxypha numitor) nectaring at a flower in the pea family.
My parents' yard also had several really cool assassin bugs in the genus Zelus.