I got somewhere several minutes early, so I stood outside and looked
around to fill in the spare time, and I noticed several mating pairs of
crawling through the mulch around a tree. Of course, my
camera leapt out of my purse, and I started snapping pictures. Then I
thought about how many beetles I was finding in relation to where my
feet were, so I quickly moved (I mean jumped) back onto the sidewalk,
and looked all around instead of focusing on the pairs I'd first
noticed. There were LOTS of beetles, but most of them were in huge
masses on something on the ground. I was about to stick my finger into
them to find out what was in the 'beetle balls', but I just couldn't
bring myself to do it, so I got a small twig to nudge them.
...so I looked up to see where the pod came from. There were several
trees near each other above me, but only one had similar pods.
I plucked a pod and a leaf, and took them to Curt Liner and his friend Tim to find
out what kind of tree it was. Thanks very much Curt, for letting me know
it was a Portia Tree, and Tim, thanks for loaning me you pen so I could
write that down!
I've since looked up the black and red beetles and
discovered that they are
Cotton Stainers, Dysdercus andreae. I
wonder how many people walking past have stepped on the beetles without ever
noticing them under foot?
I'll keep an eye on the Portia tree to try to catch it in bloom so I can
update this page with flower pictures.
....and last, because I'm sort
of sad to have to say it since I had the seed pod in my hand, this
Portia tree isn't a Florida native plant.