During your time in the Gardens this summer you may have noticed two distinct spiders setting up some impressive homes. These spiders would be none other than the Golden Silk Orb-Weaver (Banana spider) and the Argiope (Writing Spider). Each known for their skills at spinning a web these spiders lead the way in spider web design.
The Golden silk orb-weaver gets its name from the beautiful golden threads it spins its web with. The golden color helps the web itself blend in with the surrounding background making it much harder for prey to notice. The species most commonly found in Florida (Nephila clavipes) is sexual dimorphic meaning the female larger than the male sometimes as much as four times the size. Webs from this species of spider can be as long as 4 feet and have a tonsil strength stronger than steel. Although being one of the largest spiders in Florida they are relatively harmless to people. They are only prone to attack if handled roughly and their venom is non threatening to humans.
The other spider you may run into, hopefully not into their web, this summer is the Argiope. The Argiope is in the same family as the Golden silk orb-weaver however spins quite a different web. The most distinguishing feature of the Argiope is the thicker cluster of webbing found in the center of the web usually in the center of the webbing. The reasoning behind the use of this webbing is disputed however, while perched in it’s web it can be found located onto of the thicker webbing. Along with a beautiful design these spiders also take great care of their webbing cleaning often making sure there is no debris in the spindles. The Argiope like it’s relative is also non threatening to human but will bite if threatened or harassed.
(pictured Tegu Lizard Left, Azalea Right)
You may have heard the terms introduced and invasive species used in similar circumstance and may not necessarily know the difference between the two. This is understandable because the line is a little blurry between the two with the only real difference the end result of whether the species is impacting the environment in a negative or positive way.
What does it mean to walk the talk? To most it means that you can back your words with actions. To Duke Energy, ‘walk the talk’ was a promise, not only to Bok Tower Gardens, but also to the environment. When Duke Energy said they were dedicated to doing whatever they could to help Florida’s natural areas, they walked right up, put on their gloves and got to work, even in the heat and humidity of Florida weather. On May 7 th , Duke Energy and Bok Tower Gardens worked together to reduce the dense oak canopy and invasive species at Lake Blue Scrub in Auburndale to improve its Scrub habitat, which is a unique and globally rare ecosystem that is home to many threatened and endangered species.
Bok Tower Garden’s Conservation Biologist Whitney Costner said: “These collaborative events strengthen the invaluable partnership between Bok Tower Gardens and Duke Energy, which together are able to tackle locally important conservation projects.” Working together with Duke Energy, our conservation efforts at Bok Tower Gardens are enhanced beyond that which is possible without this partnership, helping us take on new challenges to conserve species and habitats for future generations. Our partnership has evolved into a friendship built on mutually beneficial goals and a mutual love for Florida’s unique habitats and species.
(Pictured above: Bahaman anole left, American anole right)
If you have ever stepped out side on a sunny Florida day you may have noticed some brown shadows vanish quickly from sight. However, on closer inspection you notice tiny lizards everywhere. These brown lizards are called Bahaman brown anoles and they have laid claim to all of Southern and Central Florida. As the name suggests they are native to the Bahamas and have made their way to Florida. As it turns out Florida had an anole of their own calling the sunshine state it’s home.
Florida’s natural anole is non other than the American green anole. Native Floridians know these anoles as the rarer of the two. Unfortunately this is the case because the invasive brown anole is much more aggressive and has chased the green anoles from their ground level territories to becoming tree dwelling lizards. Generally most brown anoles can be seen doing their “push ups” and flaring their bright orange dewlap to display dominance. Even though this is sad it is also an amazing feet of adaptation and evolution.
In less than 40 years the American green anole has become solely tree dwelling from it’s natural ground habitat with the exception of a few brave males who still feel the need to challenge the brown anoles.
A life in the treetops is dangerous one though, with many dangers including: birds, snakes, brown anoles, broad-headed skinks, domestic cats and other small predators. Luckily the green anoles have adapted longer toes with better grips, which allow them to move swiftly and safely through the treetops. So if you have noticed less and less green anoles just look up and you might find them in the treetops.
The Rufous Hummingbird is a migratory hummingbird who has one of the largest roaming territory of any North American hummingbird species. Stretching as far north as Alaska as far south as the Yucatan and as far east as Florida. Aside from having one of the largest migration patterns per body length this species of hummingbird is known for being one of the most aggressive species. Despite their 3 inch frame they will often attack and chase down other hummingbirds, when feeding from a flower, even larger species up to twice their weight. Reports say they have even been seen chasing back chipmunks if they came to close to their nests.
In 2015, Norma and Larry Ellis drove down from Ashburn, VA to bring Bok Tower Gardens a very special donation. Mr. Ellis’ great grandfather is Horace Burrell who, along with son Edward, was the builder for the Singing Tower. The donation included the Burrells‘ two handwritten journals detailing the construction of the Tower, a scrapbook, and several hundred photographs.
Using the information and photographs from the Burrell Collection, we have created a new traveling exhibit called Creating an Icon: The Way We Worked on the Singing Tower. The exhibit shares some of the details contained within the journals and helps to shed new light on the Singing Tower and those who worked so hard to create it. Creating an Icon was partially sponsored by the Florida Humanities Council and Visit Central Florida, and is on display here in the Visitors Center now through January 18, 2018, after which it will travel to other locations around central Florida and beyond.
We hope that you will come by and check out the exhibit, but even if you’re unable to visit in person, you can still view the Burrell Collection! The collection has been digitized and the journals, scrapbook, and a selection of photographs are now available online.