Say Hello To My Little Friends


Palm Tree Night

Don’t be deceived by the romance of a warm tropical night, gentle breezes, and swaying palms — there are countless eyes in the shadows watching us, studying us.  I know this because I’ve met them, face-to-face — or rather face-to-web.  Just recently, I managed to entertain a whole new set of neighbors with my spider web dance, the kind where I flail my arms all around me, overdramatically brushing webs from my face and hair.

The difference, though, between these South Florida webs and my Long Island webs was that these seemed a bit thicker and gooier — but there was no sign of the spider that spun this mess.

Generally speaking, I like spiders. They provide a valuable garden service. I  just want them to keep their webs out of my space and I’ll gladly stay out of theirs.

Then came the morning when I — in what can only be described as a Little Miss Muffet moment — had the feeling I was being watched.  It wasn’t the sort of staring that comes from the countless lizards scurrying and sunning about.  I’ve grown accustomed to  them.

Anole Lizard

Nor was it the look from a young turtle hitching a ride on his very own coconut island.

Turtle

This was something much more sinister, more alien.  I looked left — nothing. I looked right — nothing. I looked over my shoulder — still nothing.  Then I looked above me  – and there it was, a skull-like face floating in the air.

Orbweaver Spider.

Orbweaver Spider.

Actually, it’s the back of what I have since learned is a type of Orbweaver spider. Fortunately, the spider was more spider-sized than my zoom lens-sized image.   Otherwise, I would have to up my spider web dance a few notches.

These spiders are just some of the new-to-me creatures calling my yard home — which is ironic, since the animals that follow are not native to this area.  Instead, they were introduced to South Florida.

Allow me, then, to introduce them to you.  Since I’m close to Miami right now, it only makes sense to borrow a line from Al Pacino as Tony Montana in Scarface: “Say hello to my little friends.”

Iguanas

There are moments during the day when my backyard looks more like Jurassic Park than Florida, as an array of iguanas chew their way across my lawn or sun themselves on the seawall.  Introduced to the ecosystem as escaped or released pets, iguanas have a strong presence in some areas.  Several years ago, a cold snap wiped out a large portion of the iguana population — but they have since rebounded.

Iguana

Iguana

Iguana

Muscovy Ducks

The ducks were introduced as ornamental waterfowl — you know, living decorations for golf courses and parks. Originally from Mexico and Central and South Americas, the ducks have done quite well here.  In fact, they seem to have little fear of humans. I have yet to hear them quack — but they do an awful lot of hissing, as if they have a touch of laryngitis.

Muscovy Duck

Egyptian Geese

This visit was completely unexpected, especially since these birds are African natives.  Like Muscovy Ducks, Egyptian Geese were introduced as ornamental waterfowl . . .

Egyptian Geese

And I always thought plastic pink flamingos were ornamental enough!

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28 responses to this post.

  1. except fro the spiders I love them all, spiders are just too scary, I know they are good for nature but not for my heart ! ! here we have masses and masses of Canadian geese. I hope you are feeling well under the Florida sun ?!

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  2. Quite a different group of critters.

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    • Hi Donna. I’ve seen a few squirrels and even a blue jay — but these more exotic ones seem to get all the camera time. :)

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  3. Do not be too deceived by the “ornamentals” of the south! My neighbors growing up had more “fake” animal statues that made the word tacky what it is today! I do love the photo of the Muscovy Duck! Watch out! Someone is going to eat him on Thanksgiving! lol

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  4. GORGEOUS palm tree pic at the top – it reminds me of a 40′s cruise poster! I used to live in Florida, and I really do miss the critters, especially the lizards! The orbweaver spider is beautiful! Hope you are feeling better, both in body and mind! :O)

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    • Hi Kathy. Glad you liked the photo. It was actually a surprise to capture that. We were sitting in the backyard around a small fire and when I looked up, the trees were illuminated just enough. I love your analogy to a ’40s cruise poster! Be well!

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  5. Fascinating! (OK, the spider was a little creepy). Those ducks almost have vulture-type features!

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  6. I love orbweavers! So glad you’ve found some colorful and feathered new “friends.”

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    • Hey Plumdirt. I’ve never heard of an orbweaver. I just thought spiders were, well, spiders. The orbweavers, though, look like small crabs — and they spin their webs everywhere!

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  7. That’s a beautiful spider! The green iguanas are lovely, although that emerald-colored one looks wrinkly – maybe a female who’s just laid her eggs. They love grapes, by the way. Just in case you want to entice one over to you for a close-up portrait.

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    • Hi Ann. I don’t plan on getting too close to the iguanas to check for gender, so I’ll take your word for it. :) Actually, the iguanas flee if I even get close to them — but they do enjoy the weeds in the lawn.

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      • Yes – they get lots of important nutrients from dandelion leaves and lots of other things that people call “weeds.” Odie, my pet iguana likes those weeds with the rounded leaves and prominent veins called plantain (not the banana-looking things).

      • Hi Ann. When I watch them eating, they seem to avoid the grass and focus on certain weeds. It’s sort of convincing me to not go crazy with having the perfect lawn. :)

  8. Posted by MaryC on March 31, 2014 at 6:58 am

    Watch out for the iguanas. They love to eat plants, especially flowers! Before the cold of 2010 – 2011, we had hundreds of them in Fairchild. Some of them lived on the ground near our lakes, while others lived up in the trees. I’ll never forget the day we watched one munching on a Phalaenopsis flower up in one of our oaks! They also love hibiscus flowers.

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    • Hi Mary. So far, I don’t have flowers for the iguanas to enjoy, but they do love the weeds growing in the lawn. At one point, while I was in the house, seven of them made their way into the backyard for a feast. Yikes! And I thought my Long Island squirrels were a nuisance!

      Reply

  9. Love the photos! Except for the spider…

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    • Hi Chef Mimi! Glad you enjoyed the photos — I have a feeling you were relieved that that spider was in a photo and not staring at you in person. :) Be well!

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  10. Posted by Harry on April 2, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Do you want two vintage flamingos? Got them from Uncle Mel when they obtained a foothold here on LI.
    Dad

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  11. You always hear about all the new animals that have shown up in Florida (many unwelcomed). Yours are quite cute, though! I have seen some mighty big orb weavers in the South – beware!

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    • Hi Redhouse. There are some cute critters down here — some cuter than others — but there are plenty that have been introduced by humans and they can easily take over. Even the cute ones. :)

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  12. […] are about nine iguanas that munch their way across my backyard, but they’re vegetarian and more interested in chewing on […]

    Reply

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