Nature

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Spanish moss flowers from spring to fall

Did you know Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) is a flowering plant?  Spanish moss is a native, perennial epiphytic herb. It is not Spanish, nor a moss, but a flowering plant. The slender, wiry, long, branching stems (reaching 8m or more) grow as suspended, bluish-gray streamers and garlands draping among tree branches and sometimes telephone lines and fences. Spanish moss grows on trees in areas of high humidity. It can be found on live oak and pines that border estuaries, rivers,...

Florida caterpillars with a sting

The four major stinging caterpillars occurring in Florida are the Puss Caterpillar, Saddleback Caterpillar, IO Moth Caterpillar and Hag Caterpillar.  Some less common ones also occur in the state.  These caterpillars do not possess stingers, but have spines (nettling hairs) that are connected to poison glands.  Some people experience severe reaction to the poison released by the spines and require medical attention.  Others experience only an itching or burning sensation. Stinging caterpillar’s feed on many pants, but they seldom are present...

The legend of Euchee Indian Chief Sam Story

Could it be an Euchee (Yuchi) Indian chief named Sam Story was the earliest known conservationist in Walton county? Our history books tell us so, however some traditions handed down may be simply legends, and solidified as truth when shared through generations. So with that said, here is one story, through a collection of information, about a man named Sam Story. Historic documentation shows many of the earliest white settlers in Walton County were Scottish families from North and South...

A guide to Florida snakes

Knowledge is power when sharing the outdoors with these interesting reptiles Florida has an abundance of wildlife, including a wide variety of reptiles. Snakes, and their cousins the alligators, crocodiles, turtles and lizards, play an interesting and vital role in Florida’s complex ecology. Many people have an uncontrollable fear of snakes. Perhaps because man is an animal who stands upright, he has developed a deep-rooted aversion to all crawling creatures. And, too, snakes long have been use in folklore to...

Owls – Florida’s remarkable nocturnal birds of prey

According to the Florida Audubon Society, Florida is the year-round home to six (6) species of owls and four (4*) occasional visitors such as the striking Snowy Owl. These owls are listed in the Audubon of Florida Checklist of Florida Birds and are the: Barn Owl Barred Owl Burrowing Owl Eastern Screech-Owl Great Horned Owl Short-eared Owl (*exceedingly rare) Flammulated Owl * Long-eared Owl * Northern Saw-whet Owl * Snowy Owl * Each of the species links above will take...

Washington County resident raises alligators in Orange Hill

When one transitions into retirement, typically it’s to enjoy relaxation time. Not so for Washington County resident Chris Ellis. After a career as a Florida Highway patrolman, Ellis took a leap of faith and made an unusual second career choice – raising alligators. For the last 20 years, Ellis’ Orange Hill Gator Farm has been raising alligators for exhibition across the Panhandle for locations such as Gulf World, Zoo World, and Alvin’s Island. With up to a few hundred gators...