Black Witch Moth Wildlife in Naples | Rookery Bay Research Reserve

Black Witch Moth

Ascalapha odorata
The black witch moth is one of the largest species of moth in the United States with a wingspan ranging from 6 to 7 inches in length. Black witch moths are primarily nocturnal and can be seen at night around lights, and due to their large size are frequently mistaken for bats. They are completely harmless to people. Larval host plants include legumes such as cassia and acacia.

Where to Find

The black witch moth has been recorded in all 50 states except New Hampshire, but is most common in the lower latitudes of the US and Caribbean. They can sometimes be seen seeking shelter under roof eaves or on the sides of buildings by day.

Grizzled Mantis

Gonatista grisea
This small mantis species is relatively common in southwest Florida. Males reach a mazimum size of 38 millimeters, 2 millimeters smaller than females. Coloration between individual varies but usally are a mottled gray-green and are dorsally-compressed (appears flattened). They are known to press themselves flat against a tree trunk or other surface, as if to mimic lichen. Like their cousins, the preying mantis, they are predators of other arthropods.

Where to Find

The grizzled mantis is an arboreal mantid commonly found in Florida.
Grizzled Mantis Wildlife in Naples | Rookery Bay Research Reserve
Pipevine Swallowtail Wildlife in Naples | Rookery Bay Research Reserve

Pipevine Swallowtail

Battus polydamas lucayus
There are 20 subspecies in B. polydamas but only one is found in Florida. Even without the tails on its wings it is still considered a swallowtail butterfly. The second common name, gold rim swallowtail, is likely derived from the yellow scales that form a line near the edge of the dorsal side of each black wing. The pipevine swallowtail, a Florida native, earns its primary common name from its affinity for pipevine plants, such as the non-native ornamental dutchman’s pipe, upon which it deposits groups of eggs.

Where to Find

The pipevine swallowtail is found in open woodlands, forest margins, old fields, pastures and gardens.

On first inspection, the eggs resemble small orange dots on the vine, but through macro photography beautiful details on the surface of the eggs are revealed.

After they hatch, the caterpillars eat the shell of their eggs and begin to gather in small groups on the underside of the dutchman’s pipe leaves.

The caterpillars cluster together, likely for protection, as they forage on the leaves of the vine and eventually disperse on the plant as they begin to mature and grow.

An egg-laden (female) pipevine swallowtail visiting our butterfly garden and depositing several groupings of eggs.

Click here for more information on Pipevine Swallowtails.

Salt Marsh Mosquito

Aedes taeniorhynchus
As of 2020, the salt marsh mosquito is one of forty-two species of mosquito found in Collier County. It does not transmit diseases, but is considered a major biting nuisance in coastal areas. Both male and female mosquitos will feed on nector, only females will consume blood. Unlike other mosquitos females can lay their first batch of eggs with out a bloodmeal. The eggs are layed in moist soil near water and hatch when sumerged. Larva and flurish in fresh or salt water. While the salt marsh mosquito does not carry diseases harmful to humans it is a carry for equine encephalitis and dog heartworm.

Where to Find

Salt marsh mosquitoes are often found in coastal areas. They are densely found in and around the area of the Reserve. because this species does not carry disease, its population is not controlled.
Salt Marsh Mosquito Wildlife in Naples | Rookery Bay Research Reserve
Zebra Longwing Wildlife in Naples | Rookery Bay Research Reserve

Zebra Longwing

Heliconius charithonia
The zebra longwing butterfly has black, narrow wings boldly striped with yellow bands and small yellow spots. It is known to roost in large congregations at night or during rain events. The caterpillar is gray to white with dark spots, and eats the foliage of the passion vine. As a butterfly it will consume nectar and pollen.

Where to Find

The zebra longwing, known as the state butterfly of Florida, is found in abundance in tropical hardwood hammocks.

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