Butterfly World Part 1 – Butterflies

Hello, everyone! As you might have already guessed, today’s post is going to be full of butterflies. There will be plenty of amazing colors to inspire your next papercrafting project!

We recently went to Butterfly World in Coconut Creek, Florida – the largest butterfly house in the world with 3 acres of butterfly and bird aviaries, botanical gardens and a working butterfly farm and research center.

It was a cool day and we arrived first thing in the morning, so most of the 20,000+ butterflies (up to 50 species) were still lazing about posing for picture after picture rather than rushing about all a flutter to fill their tummies with nectar.

How many snoozing butterflies can you find?!

Choosing pics for this post was tough! Take these lovely Tree Nymphs (aka Paper Kites (Idea leuconoe))…

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How can you choose just one pose?!!

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The gorgeous green Malachites (Siproeta stelenes) were also showing off for the camera:20180330_091717_wm

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There’s also a huge difference depending on which way the light hits their wings!

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This Julia Heliconian (Dryas iulia) is another case in point.

As the sun warms things up, everyone flutters about their business. You can see some of those amazing blue Morphos flitting by in this video…

Here’s one I caught recharging her batteries – love that gorgeous iridescent blue!

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The under side of the wings have large eye spots that startle predators. Their wingspans measure 5-8 inches.

This one has a piece of his wing missing so the iridescent blue of the opposite wing shines through. I love the water droplets beading up from the fine mist sprinkers nearby!

The Owl (Caligo) butterflies have huge eye spots. The outer wings are a duller blue than the Morphos. With a wingspan of up to nearly 8 inches, the species is the largest butterfly in the Americas.

A Rusty Tipped Page (Siproeta epaphus) and a Tiger Longwing (Heliconius hecale).

 

There are oodles of variations of Piano Keys (Heliconius melpomene):

  

 

Check out the amazing female Cairns Birdwing (Ornithoptera euphorion) butterfly with a wingspan of about 6 inches:

As is often the case in nature, she is greatly surpassed by gorgeous colors of the male Cairns Birdwing:

I MUST do a card in those amazing colors some day!!

Let’s close with a trip to the nursery and check out the newly emerged butterflies still clinging to their chrysalises…

It’s interesting to see the chrysalises with the Malachites still inside are green, but once they’re out, they’re white.

I hope you’v enjoyed seeing these flowers with wings! I’ll be back soon with part 2 – birds and flowers. Thanks for taking the time to enjoy these wonders of creation with me!

~D.Ann

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A Visit to Mounts Botanical Garden of Palm Beach County

Hello all! Those of you who are regulars here know that, in addition to crafting, I love photographing nature. Since many of my cards have flower in them, it’s also a great way to get color inspiration, too. We were fortunate to have some cooler days in March this year. After having missed most of the nice weather with that 3 month migraine, it was wonderful to get out and enjoy a garden again!

Mounts Botanical Garden of Palm Beach County, Florida is a 14 acre living plant museum divided into 23 themed gardens. It’s right across from the Palm Beach International Airport. For those of you who have been with me from the beginning, you may remember one of my early posts was of a visit to this garden. (Click HERE if you’d like to re-visit it. I’ve selected different flowers for this round). There is special pricing in effect as they currently have a special exhibition: Washed Ashore Art to Save the Sea.  It runs through June3,  2018. So, if you’re a member of the American Horticultural Society, you get a $5 discount off the $15 admission, instead of the usual free admission.

FYI, there is a main paved trail throughout the garden for easy wheelchair access, but to get close to many of the plants you’d have to go off-roading, which is tough.

Throughout the gardens are various sculptures of aquatic creatures endangered by marine debris and pollution. They are made of items collected from beaches by volunteers. This one, weighing in at 1600 pounds, is called Priscilla the Parrot Fish and she’s made of up toys, bottle caps, buoys, lighters, beer cans, a bowling pin, toothbrushes and fishing lures, among other things. Did you know that parrot fish feed on algae and take in coral in the process, which passes through their system undigested, coming out as sand? Think of this fish-produced sand next time you’re walking on the beach! : )

The botanical show opens in the parking lot with an arbor supporting the Variegated Chalice Vine (Solandra) with its huge, chalice-like flowers:

You know I can’t resist catching a busy bee hard at work!

This is the Vanilla Orchid which produces a seed pod which is fermented and dried into the “vanilla Bean” and then processed into vanilla extract. Wish computers came with a scratch-and-sniff feature!!

The cool thing about photographing flowers is that you notice things you might otherwise miss… I didn’t know there was another sweet little flower inside moss roses! Since it was in the edible plants section, it must be of the varieties that are fit for snacking.

Nasturtium flowers and leaves are also edible I have enjoyed them in salads.

I remember first seeing the Floss Silk Tree (Chorisia speciosa) in Paraguay. Commonly called the ‘Palo Borracho’ (drunken stick) as the trunk gets kind of a ‘beer belly’ as it matures. The silk was used in the past to stuff pillows. It almost looks like snow when it starts falling to the ground.

The huge spines covering the bark are pretty amazing!

Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha) or velvet sage is so fuzzy you just want to pet it!

Rosy Camphorweed (Pluchea rosea) is another fluffy little flower…

A zebra longwing butterfly (Heliconius charithonia) slurping some sweet nectar from a firebush (Hamelia patens).

This nifty little shrub has various names… Cup and Saucer plant, Chinese Hat plant & Parasol flower (Holmskioldia sanguinea):

Yes, even in Florida we have stink bugs.

Did you know the Sausage Tree (Kigelia africana) is from the bigonia family?! This is the first one where I’ve been able to get close to the ‘sausages’. They run 12-39″ long, up to 8″ wide and weigh up to 26 pounds. The fresh fruit is poisonous and must be dried, roasted or fermented for human consumption. Can you spot the orchids?

So neat to see the three stages of the canna (not a true lily) all together:

What is it about hollyhocks (Alcea rosea) that make me want to pluck them and twirl them like dancing dolls in rich chiffon ballroom gowns?!

A busy bee thoroughly enjoying himself on this Jamaican Poinsettia (Euphorbia punicea).

Just like this little guy, I hope to BEE back soon with more fun posts! I hope you enjoyed your garden tour – especially those of you who are still putting up with that white stuff that ISN’T Floss Silk!

~D.Ann

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Orchids in Bloom!

Hello, sweet peeps!

Since most of you are in dreary, snowy winter mode right now, I thought I’d send you some Florida sunshine from my porch to perk you up. Once in a while the whim takes me to photographing flowers, but with this infernal headache (6 weeks now), I haven’t been able tolerate being out in the sun. It’s frustrating to be missing the best time to be outside in South Florida as you don’t sweat buckets the minute you step out the door. Grr! Ok, enough ranting, sorry!! So, since I had to bring in my orchids from the porch as the temps are to drop below 50 tonight, I took advantage of a mini photo shoot for you… Here are the orchids currently in bloom:

I don’t often have success with cattleya orchids, in fact this one is a little sickly, but it sure gave one stunner of a bloom! The ‘noses’ on the cattleyas make me smile… it’s like they’re surrounded with the daintiest of handkerchiefs!

Phalaenopsis orchids are the most common and I usually get them to re-bloom, from little miniature plants like this one:

To the large ones you find in the supermarket. Sometimes they put food coloring in the water to turn them brighter or unusual colors (like blue), but these are all natural.

I especially like the frilly, cupped shape of this one:

Something I didn’t know until recently… Don’t cut off the bloom stalks until they’re COMPLETELY dried up — they might bloom again! I though it was a fluke when my aunt and my cousin’s wife told me their re-bloomed on the same stalk, but I decided to start leaving mine alone just in case, and….

Yes!! I’m looking forward to these and the other 7 orchid plants with a total of 15 bloom stalks keeping me in bloom for the next several months. That’s another reason why I find orchids are such a value… You can usually get them to bloom again and the blooms usually last for weeks to months… the longest I ever saw one bloom was at my aunt’s in N Florida… she has an amazing pair of green thumbs… this picture is one that had been blooming for over 17 months at the time the picture was taken! Look at how the bloom stalk meanders round as it kept on blooming. I think that bloom stalk put out continuous flowers for nearly two years. Amazing!!

Full disclosure: No, I am not affiliated with the orchid industry or trying to sell anything! Lol! Just a huge fan of orchids!!

I hope that little bit of floral sunshine brightened your day! Have a lovely weekend!!

~D.Ann

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DIY Backlit Photo Box

Hello, and welcome to the start of a new year of D.Ann’s Crafting Whims! It’s hard to believe it’s been since last year since we saw each other! : )

I’m going to start out with a project that may make you want to go snatch up some of those holiday lights that are on clearance right now. I’ve been wanting one of those backlit photo light boxes like We R Memory Keepers makes, but they only come in 8×8 and 5×7 for $30-$35. I wanted an 8×10 box for my dad to put some of his terrific flower pictures in. Looking around the web, that size runs $80-100+. Yikes!

So, when I was browsing through Hobby Lobby’s 90% off clearance section and saw this combo, I couldn’t resist the whim to try to do it myself:

On the left, an 8×10 shadow box photo frame on sale for $1.80 (marked down from $18) and a gaudy 8×8 backlit sign on sale for $2.50 (marked down from $25). So, all I had to do was transfer the guts of the backlit sign to the photo frame and I’d have my own DIY 8×10 backlit photo box for a whopping $4.30 (+ tax and photo paper)…. now THAT’s more in line with my budget!

The inside of the backlit sign was basically holiday lights poked through wood strips to hide the wiring. So all you would need is something similar to hold holiday lights and a switch box to wire them up to (or just leave the plug if you want)… unless you got some battery operated ones that come with a switch.

I took off the felt backing in my shadow box frame, cut out a hole for the switch, and covered the back with aluminum foil to better reflect the light. Note: the backlit sign came with a tester button that has its own little battery in it… I can take this apart and use it with Chibitronics lights on some cards (like THIS one I made a few weeks ago.)

Always love a two-fer! I printed up one of my water lily photos on some We R Memory Keepers Photo Lights printable backlit film to get them started until dad could choose what one he wanted to print and put in the backlit frame…

When I first closed it up I was unhappy to see that the print was so transparent that you could see the guts of the inside workings right through the picture. Argh!

Then I added a couple of pieces of vellum and that solved the problem. Whew!

Mom and dad really liked it and are leaving my water lily picture in it for now.

I scarfed another set of these from a different Hobby Lobby store’s clearance section and will be making one of these for me, too. The photo is pretty easy to switch out, so you could have one for each season, or just change it up whenever you feel like it. I think that it would be fairly easy to do from scratch using holiday lights. You’ll have to let me know if you try it!

Thanks for stopping by today. I always appreciate reading your encouraging comments! Let’s hope this is a better year for all of us!!

~D.Ann

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HOYA doin?!

Hello, hello! I hadn’t realized how long I’d been away until I started getting e-mails from you sweet readers checking up on me. Apologies! I’ve been sick a lot and that, combined with the loss of a loved family member, has kept me away for several weeks. I’m happy to be back now and wanted to check in with you all:

Hoya doin?!  : )

A while ago, of my cousins gave me a start of her Hoya (Hoya fungii, I think) and it has finally bloomed. I love how thick and waxy the inner bloom appears and the outer part looks like fuzzy stars!

They bloom in a cluster from the hanging vine. This beautiful ball of blooms measures 3″ across.

I sure hope you have a LOVELY day! I’m also glad to be back to crafting and will be right back with the first card I’ve made in a while.

See you soon,

~D.Ann

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PTI 10th Anniversary Challenge: Transformation – Golden Framed Dewy Periwinkle Photo

The final challenge of Papertrey Ink’s 10th Anniversary celebration was called Transformation. The challenge was to create a new project based on a card you were not happy with. That was easy… That white, pink and green frame I just did really didn’t turn out as great as I’d imagined it. I thought the colors would pull out the colors in the picture, but was highly disappointed.

So, I decided to re-try this time with a solid gold background…

Wow! NOW the picture POPS!! MUCH better, don’t you think?!!

I love making cards out of pictures I’ve taken… I need to do that more often! They make great ‘any occasion’ cards to have on hand!!

Supplies used:

  • Papertrey Ink Quatrefoil cover plate die
  • Colorbok Shiny Gold Metallic Paper
  • Sookwang 6″ Scor-tape adhesive (this also worked MUCH better for piecing in the pieces)
  • Core’dinations Parisian Nights A2 white card

I’m playing along with the following challenges… click on any one of them for more information on how you can join the fun… you’ll want to hurry and join this one if you can – you might win your PTI wishlist of up to $300! Wouldn’t that be fabulous?!

Thanks again for visiting… don’t forget to stop back by on Friday for a cool surprise!

~D.Ann

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PTI 10th Anniversary Challenge: Photo Finish – Dewy Periwinkle Photo Card

If you’ve been following today’s posts, you know that I’m participating in several of Papertrey Ink’s 10th Anniversary Challenges. This one is called Photo Finish – and challenges us to incorporate a photo into a project. I took my recent dewy Periwinkle pic and framed it up on a card:

Supplies used:

  • Papertrey Ink Quatrefoil cover plate die
  • Core’dinations Parisian Nights A2 pink card and white & green cardstock
  • Aleene’s Super Tacky spray adhesive
  • Scrapbook Adhesives by 3L EZ Runner & EZ Dots

I’m playing along with the following challenges… click on any one of them for more information on how you can join the fun:

I don’t know if I’ll get another card posted tomorrow before the deadline or not. If not, I will see you again on Friday when I finally get to spill the beans on the special project I’ve been busting to tell you about!! : ) Hope to see you then, if not before!!

~D.Ann

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Flower pics and Sandhill Cranes

I’m finally back and I’m glad you’ve stopped back by, too!

I’m going to start this post with a visit to northern Florida last November. I didn’t get to post the videos of the Sandhill Cranes. They’re such nifty birds, although the locals might complain about them tearing up their yards as they look for food. It was fun to watch a couple sing and dance together. (It is said that the female makes two calls for every one the male makes… I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about that! Ha!)

(You can click on the white arrow in the middle of the pictures to go to the videos. Turn up the volume for this first one.)

I guess, after a while, they must get sore throats and just dance…

Zooming ahead 3 and a half months later, we see the results of their fooling around…

It’s so fun to see wildlife wandering the streets of quiet neighborhoods! If you stand still and don’t bother them, they might even get within a feet of you… but remember they are WILDlife!! I love that their red faces look like hearts when you look at them straight on…

Next are some of the many nifty plants at my aunt’s house. First up is the Turk’s Cap Cactus aka Melon Cactus. It gets loads of those nifty pink fruits (right now there’s only one on the left side).

Atop the brown woolly ‘cap’ the flowers burst forth swathed in white wool…

The Kaffir Lily (Clivia miniata) is a member of the Amaryllis family…

And with a great sense of humor, her ‘Shrek’s Ears’ (Crassula ovata ‘Gollum’) – a type of jade plant – are planted next to ‘Donkey’s Tail’ (aka burro’s tail – Sedum morganianum)! lol!

Jatropha (aka nettlespurge or physic nut) blooms…

It’s amazing how a heavy dew changes everything… even some ‘weeds’ in the yard…

My favorite is this dew drop laden Periwinkle…

For those of you who are getting another round of cold weather, hopefully this will tide you over until your spring flowers start blooming like crazy real soon.

Thanks for stopping by today to enjoy these lovely creations with me!

~D.Ann

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Naples Botanical Garden Flowers

Today I’m happy to be sending you all some lovely flowers to brighten your day! On our way back from Sanibel, we stopped at the Naples Botanical Garden. This lovely garden features plants from the tropics and subtropics between the latitudes of 26 degrees North and 26 degrees South that you can see highlighted on the map:

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The 170 acres include Florida, Asian, Brazilian and Caribbean Gardens, as well as an orchid garden, water garden, children’s garden and butterfly house. The paths are exceptionally ADA friendly and they have the most comfortable scooters I’ve ever tried available for a small rental fee. Ok, it’s time to grab a cuppa, sit back and let your imagination take flight with these floral pieces of eye candy…

Let’s start with some of my favorite flowers – orchids!

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If you’ve been here before you know I have a fondness for these flowers and how they often strike up the imagination’s pareidolia…

Pareidolia  the human ability to see shapes or make pictures out of randomness.

… like the big ‘noses’ of the Cattleya orchids:

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– that sometimes look like puppies!

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… or the amazing Oncidium orchids, also known as ‘dancing ladies’.:

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What do YOU see in the following orchids?20170129_192023_wm

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For my cat loving friends… do you see what I saw in these next two?

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Another of my favorite flowers is the water lily and there were tons of them.

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I was especially delighted to see the amazing Victoria Regia (Victoria amazona) water lilies in the Brazilian Garden. It reminded me of the ones I saw in the South America.These are the largest waterlilies on earth and can only be found in the wild in the Amazon rain forest. The leaves can grow to some 8′ across and are so buoyant they can support the weight of a small child or an evenly distributed load of nearly 100 lbs!

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The butterfly garden was aflutter with these winged ‘flowers’ and I was happy to see several monarch butterflies.

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Have you ever seen a monarch chrysalis? The little pearls of gold amaze me… Looks like they got a hold of some of my crafting supplies and added some bling!

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Speaking of crafting… we’re always looking for fun and lovely color combinations and there is plenty of inspiration in the Creator’s color palette:

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This one had a sign: Aechmea “Blue Tango”:

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I may have to bookmark this post to use for color inspiration on those days when the brain fog rolls in thick and heavy. lol

Ok, lets close with some interesting and unusual plants and flowers – like this fruit from the Toad Tree (Tabernaemontana elegans Apocynaceae) from Zimbabwe. If you do a Google Search on Toad Tree, you can see a picture of when the fruit bursts open and really looks like a wide mouthed toad!

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I hope you enjoyed the pics! If you did, I highly recommend including this beautiful garden on your next trip to the southwest coast of Florida!

Hopefully I’ll be back to crafting again real soon. Thank you for stopping by today. Ya’ll take care and stay warm!

– D. Ann

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A Quick Trip to Sanibel Island, Florida

Hello everyone! Last week we had a wonderful surprise… some friends who have a timeshare over at Sanibel Island, FL, had their plans change at the last minute and, rather than let it sit empty the rest of the week, offered to let us to stay there a couple of days. Sanibel is one of our favorite spots to relax! So, despite our current health issues, we headed over for a mini vacation. Since many of you are stuck in the cold and snow, I thought you might want to turn up the heat, fix yourselves a warm cuppa and enjoy a brief break in the warm sun for a change. Here we go….

One would think being on the west coast of Florida means sunsets on the water, but we were on the south side of the island and actually had gorgeous SUNRISES.

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In the distance we can see Fort Myers Beach, Bonita Springs and, maybe a bit of Naples.

It’s fun to watch the skillful cast net fishermen. (If you want to watch, press the play button (the white arrow).):

To see the sunset, we have to go to some of the northern beaches, like here at Blind Pass Beach, which is just before crossing over to Captiva:

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If you watch carefully, you can often see dolphins playing in the gulf waters. Here’s a very short video. Press the ‘play’ button (the white arrow).

(Hint: look in the distance toward the left) To my cat loving friends: There are lots of cat’s paw shells on Sanibel and I usually find the most PAIRS (they’re bivalves) here at Blind Pass. Just sayin’. >^.^<

There’s plenty to do on the island. #1 for me is shelling. It’s addictive and no matter how many shells one has, there’s always one more pretty one that HAS to go home.

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Here are some of the shells you might find. And, yes, one of the rangers at the NWR said there ARE seahorses in the water.

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Of course you have to watch out for the live ones… it’s illegal to take them home!

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This guy looked like he was hoarding his own stash of shells, so I left him alone.

Tip: try finding a single tide day where low tide is just before dawn. The tide is stronger and brings in more shells and if you can get out just before dawn, you’ll be treated to nice shells AND a pretty sunrise.

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You can also do the regular things, like sit in the sun – or shade – and read…

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… or make sand castles or something out of the ordinary like an iguana…

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… or a seahorse.

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Another fun thing to do is drive through the JN Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge – I recommend doing this at low tide as all kinds of birds tend to come in then to feed. As of this writing, the fee is $5 per car and you can drive through as many times as you wish. (If you have the lifetime Senior Pass to the National Parks, you get in free.)

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Here’s a short video of the pelicans coming in… Press the ‘play’ button (the white arrow):

There are white pelicans, spoonbills, sandpipers, egrets, ibis and others. The ranger is talking about the anhinga (commonly known as snake birds) that are often see with their wings spread out. Be sure and look up often as you drive through the park and the island… there are numerous osprey nests and there is even a bald eagle in the area.

Near sunset in the park, you can see flocks and flocks of birds coming in to roost. Watch for the mullets who seem to be jumping for joy! lol!

At the visitors center, they have something fun for the artsy-craftsy folk (Well, I THINK it’s for US, tho there were a lot of KIDS there. hahaha). They have a table with raised etchings of various forms of wildlife and plants in the area and a pile of crayons and blank paper so you can make rubbings. I put several together on a page….

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I may have to try that with some of my embossing folders! : )

As you drive through the park, be sure to stop at the mangrove overlook. As you walk through you will see what look like brown ‘knots’ on the mangrove trees. Look closer!

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They’re crawling with crabs! You may also see what look like strings of pearls – those are actually spider egg sacks. The guide said each one may have some 50,000 inside. Yikes! I think they’re basilica orb weavers. When you get out to the water be sure to look down… you may spot some of those seahorses!

Traveler’s tip: be sure to spray yourself with insect repellent before getting out of your car in the park or going to the beach to protect yourself from no-see-ums… those tiny biting midges or sand fleas are so small and fast you won’t know they’re biting until it’s too late.

Ok, lets leave the creepy critters behind and take a look at some of the pretty and unusual plants on the island:

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This one’s called a Necklace Pod (Sophora tomentosa).

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Well, it’s about time for me to cast off. (See what I did there?!) Wink-wink!

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I hope you enjoyed your little trip to Sanibel Island! I’ll be back soon with some pictures from the Naples Botanical Garden to help you hold on until your spring flowers arrive!

Thanks for stopping by!

~D.Ann

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