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python-sPythons and other exotic pets do not belong in Florida's natural areas. They disrupt our ecosystem by competing with native predators for food and space. Reaching lengths over 20 feet, pythons can eat Florida's top-level predators, even alligators. Pythons and other exotic pets are showing up in our environment because their owners release them or allow them to escape. With no natural predators and a very comfortable tropical climate, these animals can grow up to six feet per year and can multiply rapidly.

To help keep Florida free from exotic animals such as pythons:
• Think before you buy
• Ensure you will be able to care for the animal for its entire life
• Call a pet shop, zoo or animal control if your pet needs a new home

Read about how Rookery Bay Reserve's Resource Management Team handles pythons

sea-grape-1-250Although not related to cultivated grapes, the sea grape (Coccoloba uvifera) bears red and purple clustered fruit. The edible fruits ripen separately and are an important food source for many birds and small mammals. Pioneers traditionally used the berries for jams and jellies, and also found the wood to be a good cooking fuel. Leaves are large, round and leathery, with prominent veins that are often red. The canopy of the sea grape's large leaves provides a protective habitat for species such as: songbirds, gopher tortoise, and lizards. Reaching heights up to 50 feet, sea grapes are common in coastal strands and tropical hardwood hammocks from peninsular Florida to South America.

In addition to it's purpose as a habitat for the above species, sea grape aids in stabilizing sand dunes and in protecting upland structures from storm-induced erosion. This ordinary-looking plant is, in fact, highly important and is even protected under Florida Statute! Trimming sea grape can have a negative impact on wildlife and there are several guidelines you should consider when trimming this plant. Read the article below to find out how you can properly trim your sea grape and reduce the negative impact that it can have on sea turtles.

Department of FL State pamphlet "Sea Grape Trimming and Sea Turtles"

mosquito-018-jpg-copy-smallMosquitoes are most famous for their annoying habit of stealthily biting unsuspecting passers-by and leaving them with an itchy bump. What many people don't know is that this bite is not done maliciously, but simply to meet a need for the female mosquito who is preparing to lay eggs. Only the female mosquito takes a blood meal and shortly after doing so will lay eggs in a pad on the surface of the water or wet ground. A few days later, the eggs hatch into the aquatic larval form, called wrigglers.

Many wrigglers become prey for other water-borne critters and especially the Gambusia or "mosquito fish." Those that survive to maturity then serve as a critical food source for a variety of birds, as well as several other species including bats, dragonflies, and spiders.

Local governments use insecticide to control mosquito populations for human health purposes. It is sprayed either aerially by small plane to target flying adults, or from land directly into freshwater bodies such as lakes and canals where larvae are found. Adaptive management strategies over the years have fine tuned application techniques so that they result in minimal non-target mortality.

The salt marsh mosquito, which lives in coastal areas, is densely found in and around the area of the Reserve. Because this species does not carry disease, its population is not controlled.

Things to remember when avoiding mosquitoes this summer: humans are not mosquitoes' first choice for blood donors; they prefer cattle, horses, and birds. Also, mosquitoes target their prey by using the cues of movement, body odors, temperature, and exhaled carbon monoxide. Many of these things just come standard to living as a human, but you can try to reduce the number of mosquito bites you get this summer by outfitting yourself in lighter-colored clothing. Mosquitoes are more attracted to dark colors that tend to trap and hold more heat than lighter colors do. So, try lightening up your summer wardrobe a bit and hopefully you have some relief from bites and the extra
heat!

Learn more about the various plant and animal species found within the Reserve

More info about Collier County Mosquito Control

Naples Daily News article about Collier County mosquito season

 

BearWe live in Bear Country! Did you know that bears are attracted to landscape plants as well as garbage? Trimming the seed pods off your palms and harvesting fruit regularly can help deter bears from damaging your property. Learn more about bears

 

bumblebee-bestNatural insecticides derived from plants can effectively help you protect your garden. Quassia, derived from the bark of the Picrasma quassidoes tree, is effective against sawfly, leaf miners, and soft-bodied aphids and caterpillars and does not harm bees, ladybugs, and other "good" insects. Pyrethrum, derived from chrysanthemum, should only be sprayed directly on the pest as it is non-discriminatory and will kill beneficial insects. Other low-toxicity pesticides include mild soap solutions such as Ivory liquid. Soaps can be effective against aphids, mealy bugs, scale, white flies, and red spider mites. Homemade plant sprays such as table salt spray, tomato leaf spray and  other recipes using a variety of ingredients (onion, garlic, hot peppers, pungent herbs) can also be tried. Consult an organic gardening reference for more information. Learn more about how Project Greenscape promotes sustainable landscaping practices through implementing strategic, science-based education and how you can enroll in one of their workshops!

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