The Jackson’s Chameleon is an African chameleon belonging to the family Chamaeleonidae. They are native to the humid, cooler regions of Kenya and Tanzania, East Africa, found in great numbers at altitudes over 9000 feet.
They are sometimes called Three-horned Chameleons because males possess three brown horns, one on the nose and one above each superior orbital ridge above the eyes, somewhat reminiscent of Triceratops. Their adult size is 12 inches in total length.
The subspecies xantholophus was introduced to Hawaii in the 1970s and has since established populations on all main islands. This population was the primary source of Jackson’s Chameleons for the exotic pet trade. However, the exportation of these animals has been made illegal to prevent opportunists from willfully establishing feral animal populations in order to capture and sell them.
Jackson’s chameleons live primarily on a diet of small insects. They are less territorial than most species of chameleons. Males will generally assert dominance over each other through color displays and posturing in an attempt to secure mating rights, but usually not to the point of physical fights.
The lovebug, also known as the honeymoon fly or kissingbug (Plecia nearctica), is a member of the family of march flies. It is a small flying insect common to parts of Central America and the southeastern United States, especially along the Gulf Coast.
During and after mating, adult pairs remain coupled, even in flight, for several days. Lovebug flights can number in the hundreds of thousands. The slow, drifting movement of the insects is almost reminiscent of snow fall except the flies also rise up into the air reaching altitudes of over one thousand feet. Two major flights occur each year, first in late spring, then again in late summer.
The species’ reputation as a public nuisance is due not to any bite or sting but to its slightly acidic body chemistry. Because airborne lovebugs can exist in enormous numbers near highways, they die en masse on automobile windshields, hoods, and radiator grills when the vehicles travel at high speeds. If left for more than an hour or two, the remains become dried and extremely difficult to remove.
The lovebug was first described in 1940. At that time, the incidence of lovebugs was most common in Texas and Louisiana. However, by the end of the 20th century the species had spread heavily to all areas bordering the Gulf of Mexico. Urban legend holds that love bugs are the result of a University of Florida genetics experiment gone wrong,
The Indian Palm Squirrel is a species of rodent in the Sciuridae family that can be easily domesticated and kept as pets. It is found naturally in India. In the late 19th century, the Palm Squirrel was accidentally introduced into Western Australia where it has since become a minor pest.
The squirrels eat mainly nuts and fruits. They are opportunists in urban areas, and can be easily domesticated and trained to accept food from humans. Naturally active, their activity reaches levels of frenzy during the mating season. They tend to be very protective over their food sources, often guarding and defending them from birds and other squirrels.
The stripes on the Palm Squirrel’s back are described in a Hindu legend. The bridge at Rameswaram was being constructed by Lord Rama and the Vanara Sena, and the squirrel played its part by rolling in beach sand then running to the bridge to shake the sand from its back, all the time chanting Lord Rama’s name.
Lord Rama was pleased by the creature’s dedication and, in stroking the squirrel’s back, the mark of Rama’s fingers was left on the squirrel ever since. This association with Lord Rama explains why squirrels are considered sacred in India.
Tetraodontidae is a family of marine and estuarine fish which includes many familiar species such as pufferfish, balloonfish, blowfish, bubblefish, globefish, swellfish, toadfish, toadies, honey toads, sugar toads, and sea squab.
They are morphologically similar to the closely related porcupinefish, which have large external spines. The scientific name refers to the four large teeth, fused into an upper and lower plate, which are used for crushing the shells of crustaceans and mollusks, their natural prey.
Puffer fish are generally believed to be the second most poisonous vertebrate in the world, after the Golden Poison Frog. Certain internal organs, such as liver, and sometimes their skin are highly toxic to most animals when eaten, but nevertheless the meat of some species is considered a delicacy in Japan when prepared by chefs who know which part is safe to eat and in what quantity.
Puffer poisoning usually results from consumption of incorrectly prepared puffer soup, fugu chiri, or occasionally from raw puffer meat, sashimi fugu. While chiri is much more likely to cause death, sashimi fugu often causes intoxication, light-headedness, and numbness of the lips, and is often eaten for this reason.
Mongooses are a species of small carnivorans from southern Eurasia and mainland Africa. Mongooses are commonly terrestrial and many are active during the day. Some species lead predominantly solitary lives, seeking out food only for themselves, while others travel in groups, sharing food among group members.
The Meerkat is a species of Mongoose, a small, diurnal mammal that forages for invertebrates in open country. Its behavior and small size make it enticing to larger carnivores and birds of prey. However, it can capture and consume small migrating birds.
Sugar states were established in the Caribbean during the 1600s and 1700s to exploit profits from the high demand for sugar in Europe. The Europeans brought unintended new species such as rats in ships. Initially, the rats were rife and destroyed up to a quarter of the annual crop of sugarcane.
In 1872, a Jamaican sugar planter, Mr. W. B. Espeut, imported small Indian mongoose (Herpestes auropunctatus) and released them on his plantation. The rat populations were reduced, so other farmers brought them to release into other areas, including Puerto Rico, Barbados and Cuba.
The Buddhist god of wealth Vaisravana, or Dzambala for Tibetans, is frequently depicted holding a mongoose that is spitting jewels from its mouth.
Tabebuia chrysantha is a native tree of intertropical broadleaf deciduous forests above the Tropic of Capricorn. It is know as Canaguate in Northern Colombia, as Tajibo in Bolivia, as Ipe Amarelo in Brazil, and as Araguaney in Venezuela.
It is widely used as ornamental tree in the tropics for landscaping gardens, public squares, and boulevards due to its impressive and colorful flowering. Many flowers appear on the leafless stems at the end of the dry season, making the floral display more conspicuous.
The deep yellow tubular flowers are up to three inches in length and are produced in dense clusters, covering the entire canopy of the tree. The sweetly fragrant flowers last for a month or more, and when they fall the ground beneath is decorated with a yellow carpet.
Since flowering and fruiting take place in dry season, from February to April, the seeds can take advantage of early rains. If rain season is delayed, the tree may flower and fruit a second time. They are useful as honey plants for bees, and are popular with certain hummingbirds.
Melaleuca quinquenervia, commonly known as Niaouli or Broad-leaved Paperbark or the Paper Bark Tea Tree, is a medium sized tree of the allspice family, Myrtaceae. The plant is native to coastal Eastern Australia, in New South Wales and Queensland. It has become naturalized in the Everglades in Florida, where it is considered a serious weed by the USDA.
Melaleuca is used traditionally by indigenous Australians. A brew is made from the bruised young aromatic leaves to treat colds, headaches and general sickness. The steam distilled leaf oil of the cineole chemotype is also used externally for coughs, colds, neuralgia, and rheumatism. A nerolidol and linalool chemotype is also cultivated and distilled on a small scale for use in perfumery.
The flowers serve as a rich source of nectar for other organisms, including fruit bats, a wide range of insect and bird species such as the Scaly-breasted Lorikeet (Trichoglossus chlorolepidotus), the Grey-headed Flying Fox (Pteropus poliocephalus) and the Little Red Flying-fox (P. scapulatus), which all consume the nectar and flowers.
Melaleuca is known for its capability to withstand floods and droughts. If there is a canopy gap created by a flood or some other disturbance Melaleuca will establish to make use of the extra light. In physically disturbed sites, flourishing invaders have high colonization abilities. Melaleuca is constantly thinning itself of small branches and twigs and this causes many seeds to fall all the time, along with the detrius.
The Royal Poinciana is a species of flowering tree from the legume family, noted for its fern-like leaves and flamboyant display of flowers. The tree’s vivid red flowers and bright green foliage make it an exceptionally striking sight.
It is endemic to Madagascar, where it is found in the dry deciduous forests. In addition to its ornamental value, it is also a useful shade tree in tropical conditions, because it usually grows to a modest height but spreads widely, and its dense foliage provides full shade. In areas with a marked dry season, it sheds its leaves during the drought, but in other areas it is virtually evergreen.
The Royal Poinciana requires a tropical or near-tropical climate, but can tolerate drought and salty conditions. In the United States, it grows only in South Florida, Southern California, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It is much loved in the Caribbean, and many Puerto Rican paintings feature Royal Poinciana. It is also the national flower of St. Kitts and Nevis.
Its flowering season is April through June, which coincides with the end of the school year in northern tropical climates. Because of this timing, the flower of Poinciana often generates strong emotions among graduating students, as the Poinciana bloom when they are about to leave their school and their childhood behind.
Hammocks are dense stands of hardwood trees that grow on natural rises just few inches higher than surrounding marshland that is otherwise too wet to support them. They are formed gradually over thousands of years rising in a wet area through the deposits of their own decomposing organic material.
Because of their slight elevation, hammocks rarely flood. Acids from decaying plants dissolve the limestone around each tree island, creating a natural moat that protects the hammock plants from fire. Shaded from the sun by the tall trees, ferns and airplants thrive in the moisture-laden air inside the hammock.
As a result they typically have a large and diverse density of various forms of plant and animal life. They appear as teardrop-shaped islands shaped by the flow of water in the middle of a slough. Many tropical species such as mahogany and cocoplum grow alongside the more familiar temperate species of live oak and red maple.
Hammocks are one of the habitats found in the Florida Everglades, as well as in more northerly marshy areas of Florida such as the Gulf Hammock Wildlife Management Area in Levy County and the Steinhatchee Wildlife Management Area southeast of Cooks Hammock in Lafayette County.
The plant genus Tillandsia, a member of the Bromeliad family, is found in the deserts, forests and mountains of Central and South America, Mexico and the southern United States in North America. They display an incredible range of form and size, blooming in an impressive palette of extraordinary colors.
Tillandsia species are epiphytes, also called aerophytes or air plants. They normally grow without soil while attached to other plants. Epiphytes are not parasitic, depending on the host only for support. They nourish themselves totally, imbibing rain, dew and whatever nutrients are gathered from the air such as dust, decaying leaves and insect matter.
Although not normally cultivated for their flowers, some Tillandsia will bloom on a regular basis. In late fall-winter, the plants bloom with striking purple flowers. In addition, it is quite common for some species to take on a different leaf color, usually changing from green to red when about to flower.
Tillandsia is a primary ingredient in Allerplex, a standard process herbal supplement used to treat pollen allergies. The genus was named after the Swedish physician and botanist Dr. Elias Tillandz.