Wildlife of Florida Factsheet: Virginia Opossum

A photo of three young possums hanging by their tails from a branch.

Learn more about the Florida opossum!
The Wildlife of Florida Factsheet series was created to provide the public with a quick, accurate introduction to Florida's wildlife, including both native and invasive species. Authors Simon Fitzwilliam and Raoul Boughton hope this 2-page quick guide and others in the series published by the UF/IFAS Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation will inspire readers to investigate wildlife in their own backyards and communities and understand the amazing biodiversity of wildlife in the state of Florida.
https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw471

Hurricane Toads

A close-up photo of one of the abovedescribed raisin-sized froglets seated on a dime. It fits easily within the area of the dime, leaving a substantial margin uncovered: a very small frog.

Eastern spadefoots are a common but largely unappreciated species of native toad in Florida. Following torrential rains they emerge from hiding and breed in shallow pools. In as little as 14 days, hordes of raisin-sized froglets emerge and hop away in all directions from the pond or puddle where they were born. Some of them find their way to yards and garages of suburban neighborhood homes. Other unlucky baby toads end up on roads, where they are smashed. This 5-page fact sheet written by Steve A. Johnson and Candace D. Fuhrmann and published by the UF/IFAS Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation outlines the unique biology of this species and explains how to identify eastern spadefoot tadpoles, young, and adults. It also includes a section on how you and your friends and family can help these interesting and attractive little creatures by engaging in citizen science.
https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw474

Wildlife of Florida Factsheet: Florida Panther

A photo of a panther at either dusk or dawn standing on what looks like a limerock road with dog fennel in the foreground and a pine forest in the background.

Learn more about the Florida Panther!

The Wildlife of Florida Factsheet series was created to provide the public with a quick, accurate introduction to Florida’s wildlife, including both native and invasive species. Authors Kelly Koriakin and Raoul Boughton hope this 2-page quick guide and others in the series published by the UF/IFAS Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation will inspire readers to investigate wildlife in their own backyards and communities and understand the amazing biodiversity of wildlife in the state of Florida.
https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw467

Diagnostic Methods for the Comprehensive Health Assessment of the Long-Spined Sea Urchin, Diadema antillarum

Using a dissecting microscope to examine D. antillarum. This animal was to be necropsied, so spines were cut prior to the exam. If the procedure is planned as a nonlethal exam, the spines should not be damaged.

This 55-page document contains a wealth of information on the long-spined sea urchin, which is an important animal in coral reef ecosystems. The publication discusses diagnostic methods for Diadema antillarum and provides reporting forms for laboratory and diagnostic work. Written by Ruth Francis-Floyd, Jan Landsberg, Roy Yanong, Yasu Kiryu, Shirley Baker, Deborah Pouder, William Sharp, Gabriel Delgado, Nicole Stacy, Tom Waltzek, Heather Walden, Roxanna Smolowitz, and Greg Beck, and published by the UF/IFAS Veterinary Medicine—Large Animal Clinical Sciences Department, May 2020.
https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/vm244

Facts about Wildlife Diseases: Bats and Coronaviruses

Tripart infographic showing a silhouetted pig, three bats, and an unidentified animal but presumably a civet cat in a blue panel on the left. Inside the blue panel are arrows leading from the three bats to the pig above and the civet cat below. Another blue arrow points to a silhouetted human figure centered in the white space between the blue panel on the left and a purple panel on the right containing a single sillouetted man holding a pitchfork and two additional groups of people, some adults in business attire and four children holding hands. Three smaller purple arrows point from the central human figure in the whitespace to the people in the purple panel.
Bats benefit both natural ecosystems and people. Viruses that live in bats can harm people, but transmission of these pathogens from bats to humans can occur only when humans come too close to bats. Recently, misguided attempts to preserve human health have led to persecution of bats. In fact, however, what will keep people healthy is to protect bats and their habitat. This 4-page fact sheet written by Holly K. Ober and Samantha M. Wisely and published by the UF/IFAS Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation explains how protecting bat roosts can reduce the likelihood of future zoonotic disease pandemics while also increasing the natural pest reduction services bats provide as they consume insects that cause damage to agronomic crops as well as the mosquitoes that transmit diseases like Zika, dengue, malaria, and chikungunya. Finally, protecting bat roosts keeps bats safely distanced from people, whereas destroying their homes risks the health of both people and bats because it forces bats into closer proximity to people.
https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw473

Yellow-Legged Hornet (suggested common name), Vespa velutina (Lepeletier 1836) (Insecta: Hymenoptera: Vespidae)

Close-up photo of Vespa velutina clinging to a flower and feeding on nectar.

The yellow-legged hornet, Vespa velutina (Lepeletier), is a pest of concern outside of its native range. Vespa velutina is native to Southeast Asia and has invaded several regions in Europe, first appearing in France in 2004. As a generalist predator, they are a pest of honey bees and a major concern to many beekeepers. Vespa velutina has not been intercepted in North America, but it is believed to have high invasion potential. This 5-page fact sheet written by Krystal Ashman, Oliver Keller, and Cameron Jack and published by the UF/IFAS Entomology and Nematology Department describes the hornet and explains its live cycle, biology, and some of its predatory strategies.
https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in1282

Asian Giant Hornet, Vespa mandarinia Smith (1852) (Insecta: Hymenoptera: Vespidae)

Close-up photo of a female Vesma Mandarina Smith, resting on a leaf, some tiny beads of water on its striking yellow head

Vespa mandarinia Smith, commonly called the Asian giant hornet, is the largest hornet in the world. Its size and distinctive markings make it easily distinguishable from other Asian hornet species. Not only is the wasp occasionally life-threatening to humans, it can decimate a number of insect colonies, most notably wild and farmed honey bees. Vespa mandarinia is native to Japan and occurs in several countries in Asia. The first Vespa madarinia hornet detected in the United States was in Washington State in 2019. This 5-page fact sheet written by Caitlin Gill, Cameron Jack, and Andrea Lucky and published by the UF/IFAS Entomology and Nematology Department describes the hornet, its biology, its predatory strategies, and its medical significance. The fact sheet also provides some strategies for management of this dangerous and destructive hornet.
https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in1281

Amaranthus palmeri—Palmer Amaranth

First true leaves are roughly oval and have a slight notch or indentation at the end.

Palmer amaranth has become one of the most troublesome weeds in the southeastern US due to its vigorous growth rate, high seed production, and development of resistance to herbicides from multiple modes of action. This 4-page publication illustrates characteristics of this weed to assist in accurate identification, proper management, and development of effective control strategies. Written by Sergio Morichetti, Jason Ferrell, and Pratap Devkota, and published by the UF/IFAS Agronomy Department, revised April 2020.
https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ag346

Wading Birds of Northern Belize

A photo of a great blue heron wading at either sunrise or sunset.

Belize is home to over 605 bird species, many of them wading birds popular with bird watchers who enjoy their bright colors and charismatic behavior. Bird-watching is a major contributor to successful wildlife conservation and is important as native habitat loses ground to development. This 4-page fact sheet written by Venetia S. Briggs-Gonzalez, Jorge E. Ruano, Justin R. Dalaba and Frank J. Mazzotti and published by the UF/IFAS Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation presents photos and descriptions that will help identify some common and some rare wading birds.
https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw469

White-tailed Deer of Florida

A fawn at a private deer farm. Photo by Tyler Jones taken on 10-13-15

The white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) is the most economically important big game mammal in North America and Florida. This 12-page fact sheet written by Raoul K. Boughton, Bethany Wight, Samantha Wisely, Karen Hood, and Martin B. Main and published by the UF/IFAS Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation provides an overview of the various subspecies of white-tailed deer with populations in Florida and describes their history, biology, and management.
https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw121

Sea Turtle Conservation: 10 Ways You Can Help

A sea turtle on a beach at sunrise observed by four people standing at a distance.

All of Florida’s five species of sea turtles are in danger of extinction, largely as a result of people’s actions. Fortunately, however, there are simple steps Florida’s residents and visitors can take to help these remarkable animals. This illustrated 4-page fact sheet written by Jessica E. Swindall, Holly K. Ober, Margaret M. Lamont, and Raymond R. Carthy and published by the UF/IFAS Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation provides 10 easy-to-follow suggestions for ways people can reduce harm to sea turtles.
https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw466

Fish Population Recruitment: What Recruitment Means and Why It Matters

Florida bass guarding fry
Recruitment, the process by which small fish transition to older, larger life stages, is probably the most important process that regulates populations of fish, but it is complicated to understand. This 6-page fact sheet written by Edward V. Camp, Robert N. M. Ahrens, Angela B. Collins, and Kai Lorenzen and published by the UF/IFAS Program in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, School of Forest Resources and Conservation explains the recruitment process in fish populations and why recruitment is so important to fisheries science and management.
https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fa222

Insect Bite Hypersensitivity in Horses

Allergic skin disease is a very common cause of itching in horses. The itching can severely affect the horse’s quality of life, leading to the horse wounding itself by biting or scratching, and it can reduce the utility of the horse. This 4-page fact sheet written by Rosanna Marsella, Nicky Craig, Carissa Wickens, and Samantha Brooks and published by the UF/IFAS Department of Animal Sciences explains how to manage allergic skin disease, control itching, treat secondary infections, and prevent the insect bites in the first place.
https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/an359

Everglades Agricultural Area Soil Subsidence and Sustainability

Presence of calcium carbonate in the form o flimestone gets higher as the soils become shallow, raising the pH.

This 4-page major revision, a publication of the UF/IFAS Department of Soil and Water Sciences, highlights the current status of Histosols within the Everglades Agricultural Area in southern Florida. Over the last century, soils within the region have gradually been lost via oxidation, a process commonly referred to as soil subsidence. The rate of subsidence is gradually declining, due to factors such as increased mineral content in soil, humification, and water management (maintenance of higher water tables). Best Management Practices and crop rotation help slow down the rate of oxidation and promote soil sustainability within the region. Written by Jehangir H. Bhadha, Alan L. Wright, and George H. Snyder.
https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ss523

Macrocybe titans: The Mushroom Giant of the Western Hemisphere

Age series showing the development of M. titans fruiting bodies.

The aptly named Macrocybe titans, meaning “giant head,” is the largest known gilled mushroom in the Western Hemisphere. This species was originally described from Florida but can be found across the southeastern United States as well as the Caribbean, Central America, and parts of South America. These mushrooms are often found in clusters with the caps growing as large as 3 ft wide and 1–1.5 ft tall! This species was first discovered in Gainesville, Florida, and is generally found near buildings or roads. This new three-page publication of the UF/IFAS Plant Pathology Department describes these giant mushrooms, their discovery, and where to find them. Written by Elena Karlsen-Ayala and Matthew E. Smith.
https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pp356

Considerations for Selection and Use of Ornamental Grasses

Scouring horsetail in a planter.

Ornamental grasses create interest and excitement in the landscape with their unique characteristics. The availability of a large number of species and cultivars makes these plants very versatile, with many potential uses in the landscape. This publication outlines many of the considerations for the proper selection and use of ornamental grasses. The information and tables should assist the first-time gardener as well as the experienced landscaper in the selection and use of ornamental grasses in Florida. This 9-page major revision was written by Mack Thetford and Mary Salinas and published by the UF/IFAS Environmental Horticulture Department.
https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep233

The invasive shot hole borers Euwallacea fornicatus, E. kuroshio, and E. perbrevis (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae)

Dorsal view of Euwallacea fornicatus

Invasive species, those that are nonnative and cause economic damage, are one of the main threats to ecosystems around the world. Ambrosia beetles are some of the most common invasive insects. Currently, severe economic impacts have been increasingly reported for all the invasive shot hole borers in South Africa, California, Israel, and throughout Asia. This 7-page fact sheet written by Demian F. Gomez, Jiri Hulcr, and Daniel Carrillo and published by the School of Forest Resources and Conservation describes shot hole borers and their biology and hosts and lists some strategies for prevention and control of these pests.
http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fr422

Attracting Native Bees to Your Florida Landscape

blanketflower and blueberry flowers with native bees

Florida is home to approximately 315 species of native wild bees. These bees rely on flowers for survival; their diets consist exclusively of pollen and nectar harvested from flowers. Recently reported declines in some bee species have heightened awareness of bee conservation across the United States and motivated efforts to increase floral resources for bees. This 7-page fact sheet written by Rachel E. Mallinger, Wayne Hobbs, Anne Yasalonis, and Gary Knox and published by the UF/IFAS Entomology and Nematology Department shows how gardeners and land managers can aid in conservation efforts by planting flowers for bees in home or community gardens.
http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/IN1255

Cetaceans 4th Grade Curriculum–Lesson 9: How Do Whales Stay Warm?

Exposed oyster beds at low tide along the shoreline at Anastasia State Park in Northeast Florida. Oyster beds, mollusks, shellfish, coastline, state parks. UF/IFAS Photo: Josh Wickham.

This 9-page document is the ninth lesson in the Cetaceans 4th Grade Curriculum. It will help students investigate the roles that blubber, body shape, and body size play in preventing heat loss in marine mammals. Written by Maia Patterson McGuire and Ruth Francis-Floyd, and published by the UF/IFAS Veterinary Medicine–Large Animal Clinical Sciences Department, June 2019.
http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/vm234

Cetaceans 4th Grade Curriculum–Lesson 16: North Atlantic Right Whales and Ship Strikes

A boat off the coast of the Florida Keys. Photo taken 03/02/15.

This 7-page document is the sixteenth lesson in the Cetaceans 4th Grade Curriculum. It will help students learn why ship strikes are a threat to North Atlantic right whale survival, and what conservation measures are in place to reduce this threat. Written by Maia Patterson McGuire, Jessica Hardy, Brenda Cannaliato, and Ruth Francis-Floyd, and published by the UF/IFAS Veterinary Medicine–Large Animal Clinical Sciences Department, June 2019.
http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/vm241