Snowbirds

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Many animals come to Florida in the winter including birds, butterflies, and Homo sapiens.  We too are spending the winter with them and, collectively, we refer to them as snowbirds.  The migratory patterns of snowbirds are very interesting. So far we have been staying on the west coast of Florida that is primarily populated during the winter by subspecies of Homo sapiens such as michiganus, illinoisens, and ontarionus.  On the other hand, the east coast of Florida is primarily populated by migrating subspecies such as newyorkus and jerseyanus.   We are not sure why these subspecies favor these sections of Florida but probably it is because the migratory paths for each group of subspecies leads most easily to these areas.  Once we settle in Asheville, we may continue to join the snowbirds in Florida during the winter, depending on how well Patty acclimates to our new home.

Last week’s blog detailed our two-week battle with ants.  We are happy to report that the war is over, with only an occasional ant survivor being rounded up on a daily basis.  Patty feels we have discussed insects enough but Ed believes it is our duty to report on another threat—the browm marmorated stink bug (BMSB).  These bugs are an invasive species from the Far East that were first found in the U.S. in the late 1990’s. We first discovered them when we stopped at an interstate rest stop in southwestern Virginia a few months ago.  We were going to have lunch at the rest stop but the picnic tables were covered by stink bugs so we made a quick escape.  They covered our car and some of them hung on for dear life as we drove at 65 miles per hour to Richmond, VA.  We did not see many more stink bugs until our recent battle with the ants, when several stink bugs also showed up in our trailer.  A quick Google search indicated that there have been outbreaks of stink bugs in many states in recent years.  They damage fruits and vegetables and are considered a major threat by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  Our Google search also discovered studies that show that damaging insect species, like these stink bugs, are moving north in the U.S. at the same rate as global warming.  Forget rising sea levels—if global warming could cause huge increases in insects, it is definitely something we should try to avoid.

This week we stayed at Alafia River State Park, which is located southeast of Tampa, FL.  It is a very nice park that is known for having some of the best mountain biking trails in Florida. “Florida mountain biking” sounds like an oxymoron but this area was modified by phosphate mining, which created a series of ponds and hills that made a great place for mountain biking.  Here are some photos from Alafia River State Park.

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Two real snowbirds—sandhill cranes that migrate to Florida each year from the Midwest.

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Beware the brown marmorated stink bug, invader from the Far East.  They are large bugs so it is difficult to figure out how they get into our trailer.

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Our camp site at Alafia River

Alafia Collage

A mountain biking trail at Alafia River State Park—this is one of the easier trails.  Ed rode on one of the more difficult trails several years ago and almost killed himself.

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One of the ponds that was formed by phosphate mining.  Several biking trails are along the sides of steep hills and this is where you end up if you go off the trail.

Flower Collage

Mountain biking is normally hectic but Ed likes to stop and smell (or at least photograph) the wildflowers.

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In wilderness is the preservation of the world – Henry David Thoreau

 

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