August 23, 2018

Visiting Florida in January -- suggestions? Advice? Places to visit?

So, in mid January, Elizabeth and I are going to go to Florida! I mostly want to go see the Manatees, but I'd sure like to see some of the other neat stuff in Florida... I know that January may not be the most opportune time to see some of the flowering plants, but perhaps some of the tropical climate will still allow for a few plants to bloom. :) I checked out the species list for Florida in January:

So, anyone have any advice of where we MUST go?!? Again, I'm hoping to see the manatees, and I've been told that Three Sisters Spring is a good place to see them on the west coast of FL:

Anyone else have suggestions?
@gcwarbler @alisonnorthup @susanhewitt @jaykeller @joemdo @tpalmer @marykeim @gaudettelaura @lorax32 @ryancooke @j_appleget @javierahr @vijaybarve

Posted on August 23, 2018 05:47 PM by sambiology sambiology | 16 comments | Leave a comment

July 06, 2018

Palo Pinto details

Hey all,

Let’s talk about the Palo Pinto gathering on Friday, July 27 and Saturday, July 28.

First of all, the state park is CLOSED to the public, so you MUST let me know if you are going to attend – you can do this either through a comment in that last journal post, or on a comment below. Or, you can toss me a little message too. All groups going into the park have to be less than 25 people for whatever reason…? Anyways, if you want to come, please let me know. :)

Secondly, the fires in Palo Pinto are still a bit north of the park, so hopefully they are contained sooner before later:
On the google map, the fires are here (about 4500 acres):'44.5%22N+98%C2%B021'37.9%22W/@32.7613403,-98.4277843,12.5z/data=!4m6!3m5!1s0x0:0x0!7e2!8m2!3d32.7623692!4d-98.3605143

OK, now for some details on the gathering!

I’m planning on being here at like 4:00 PM on Friday afternoon:'03.7%22N+98%C2%B033'41.3%22W/@32.5343705,-98.563673,888m/data=!3m2!1e3!4b1!4m15!1m8!3m7!1s0x0:0x0!2zMzLCsDMyJzM4LjAiTiA5OMKwMzInMjEuNiJX!3b1!7e2!8m2!3d32.5438836!4d-98.5393394!3m5!1s0x0:0x0!7e2!8m2!3d32.5343659!4d-98.5614794
GPS coordinates: 32.534366, -98.561479
This area has a little circle and some places to park. This place is pretty dang secluded, so everything should be safe here – vehicles can be left here as well as tents being pitched here. This is going to be “headquarters.” For the physical directions… From Hwy 16 in Strawn, go west on Hwy 2372. It’s at the end of Hwy 2372.

We can explore a bit around here for a while, and then I’m planning on going to Mary’s Café in Strawn at 5:30 PM. Chicken Fried Steak is good here. No obligations on coming to Mary’s Café – if you want to just explore around the lake some, cool.

At like 6:30 or so, I’m planning on coming back to ‘headquarters,’ explore a bit and scope out where to set up black lights! Now, NO electricity, no water, no nothing out here… So all has to be powered by generators or batteries. Just FYI. If you have a generator or access to one, please bring it! I’ll try my best to get ahold of something, but I’m a bit doubtful.

We’ll moth until we drop.

Elizabeth and I are staying at this hotel: Super 8 by Wyndham Eastland for $50 a night.
It’s a bit of a trek away from the park, but that’s about the closest one, and I want to stay somewhat close to get there earlier the next day!

On Saturday (July 28), we can meet at “headquarters” at like 7:30 AM and explore the park some more. All of the exploring should be on foot – there aren’t really roads in the park, and I don’t feel comfortable creating roads throughout the park with our vehicles while we’re there!

I have to leave at around noon to get back to Fort Worth (to take a nap before mothing at the Heard Museum in McKinney that night!).

If you have questions or concerns, let me know! Also, if you have access to a generator or are bring some mothing gear, comment. Looking forward to this event! Should be a blast! Now, let’s keep our fingers crossed for ‘reasonable’ weather.

Also, save my phone # 817 771 8793 – I’m not sure what the cell reception is like out there – doubtful… but save it on your phone so you have it.

Posted on July 06, 2018 08:14 PM by sambiology sambiology | 47 comments | Leave a comment

June 08, 2018

Mothing in DFW for National Moth Week (July 21 - 29) -- mark your calendars!

So, National Moth Week is a pretty fun time. It's a time where we can really focus on the nocturnal critters that come to lights! DFW has quite a few moth species documented so far too:,47654

We've got quite a few meet-ups planned for the DFW metroplex (well, in the proximity of DFW)... Hopefully you can come to some of these! All of these will start at around dusk (8:30ish) and end whenever they end -- usually like midnight or a bit before.

Saturday, July 21 - Acton Nature Center ( This is a public event, and the natural area is pretty nice. Not too much light pollution here, so I predict it will be some great mothing!

Wednesday, July 25 - Parr Park in Grapevine ( Another public event, and Parr Park has some really interesting plants, so I'm thinking there will be some nice moths.

Friday, July 27 - Palo Pinto Mountains State Park (FM2372, Strawn, TX 76475). This is a private event, and I've got special permission to get onto the area. I'm limited to only like 20 or so folks that can come to this, so PLEASE let me know if you want to come. Some of us are getting here earlier this day to explore some of the park too. There's like NO light pollution here, so it should be really interesting to see what comes to the lights at night. Also, a few of us are going to stay the night here -- either camping or nearby hotels.

*Saturday, July 28 - Heard Museum McKinney ( A wonderful spot with lots of diversity of plants, so again, I foresee some nice mothing. Notice: this is a fund raising event, so tickets will need to be purchased! Details in comments below...

Be sure to comment if you plan on coming to some/any of these! I'm planning on going to all of these. Also, if you know of others in the DFW/North Central TX area, let us know! :)

Posted on June 08, 2018 07:58 PM by sambiology sambiology | 40 comments | Leave a comment

May 21, 2018

Moth and privet...

So, I was just flipping through my new favorite field guide, Moths of Southeastern North America by Seabrooke Leckie (@seabrookeleckie ) and David Beadle, and I stumbled upon the genus Palpita — these are really pretty moths, and I’ve only seen a few.

Well, I noticed a particularly interesting comment on the host plant for the species Palpita atrisquamalis (“Gracile Palpita”) on page 224... “HOSTS: Can be a pest on ornamental privet.” I’ve searched around a little bit, but I can’t seem to find a source for this specific species... Another species of Palpita has been documented in China as wonderful pest of Ligustrum quihoui:

Hmmm... I wonder if these caterpillars eat all species of privets? We have a major issue with privet in Texas as an invasive species (4 species), and I wonder if this moth can be raised on the various species we have... And, if they can be raised on our invasive privets, I wonder if they could be used as a mechanism of control (if not complete control, perhaps they can be used as assistance control).

It does beg the question: privet it amazingly abundant here, so why isn’t the moth? If there are plentiful resources, wouldn’t there be an overabundance of this species of moth? I’m not sure... Perhaps it doesn’t use the privets we have if offered other species to eat... Or, there may be so many predator pressures that keep this species in check...

So, who wants to do some experiments with me? :)

First of all, we need some adults... Now, I only seen a single one, so I’m really going to start keeping an eye open for more. Quite a few folks here on iNat have observed them. And I know that even a few folks have quite a bit of experience raising caterpillars of various species...

Here are some websites that show the adults:

If you do see one, try to collect it alive, put it in a container with some meshing (for air) and toss in some privet with it. If you’re able to get various species of privet, cool. If you can just find one species of privet, try just that one. See if the adult (well, only females, although I’m not sure how to tell the sexes apart) lays her eggs on the privet. You don’t have to raise the caterpillars unless you want to — if you’re able to hold on to the eggs, I can perhaps come by and pick them up...

If nothing else, we can at least add a caterpillar image onto bugguide for this specific species! :) Maybe we can try this with the other species of Palpita too…

I’m just kinda thinking out loud on this journal post. Please chime in with some other ideas and suggestions — and let me know if you want to experiment with this! :) This is an iNat-driven project, so let’s do it together (again, only if you want to!).

Posted on May 21, 2018 04:02 PM by sambiology sambiology | 30 comments | Leave a comment

April 15, 2018

Influx of observations, trust in suggestions feature, extra curation needed!

I love the new autosuggestion feature of iNat -- I keep reminding myself that it's 'learning' as more and more species are added to the algorithm... In the meantime, I've noticed quite a few observations (just in my area of Dallas/Fort Worth) that have been ID'ed as things that area way out of the natural distribution.

As the city nature challenge gets closer, I predict that there will be an influx of observations from new users that trust solely on the visual suggestions given by the app.

I also know that there are many students that are forced to use iNat for some project under duress, and many of them may not care about the quality of their observations... I wish it were different, but I do think that's the reality of it!

Most of all, I'm extraordinarily grateful for the folks that devote their expertise and knowledge to adding in ID's and curating the observations. Know that each time you add an ID, you're actually welcoming someone to the naturalist community -- validating their observation and letting the observer know that we value the observations in the database (even if they're super blurry!). :)

So, I'm curious -- what's the best way to deal with the influx of new observations? I try to add in ID's, but I tend to focus JUST on my region of Texas -- I'm sure there are lots that are popping up from other parts of the world that need the same or more curation... I also use some copy and paste messages, but I may have to modify them a bit...

What do you think?

Posted on April 15, 2018 04:56 PM by sambiology sambiology | 15 comments | Leave a comment

April 13, 2018

Spending time with iNat community in Del Rio

I think some of my favorite times are spent outside in nature.

It's great that there is a community that enjoys these times as much as I do -- this is the iNat community. iNaturalist is such an enjoyable tool. My appreciation for nature is amplified by using it.

On April 5 - 8, I joined up with around 20 other iNatters near Del Rio to explore and document stuff. It was fantastic! The original plan was modified a bit (, and I've found out how difficult it is to do this when there's very very little cell reception! Here's what I ended up doing:

April 5: explored Lake Amistad National Recreation Park. In the AM, met up with some folks at the visitor's center off of hwy 90 and walked the sunrise tour. After that, we went across the road from the Rock Quarry , south of hwy 90, across from the railroad tracks. In the evening, we set up several blacklights at the San Pedro group site -- which we had all to ourselves!

April 6: explored Seminole Canyon State Park most of the day. It was windy in the AM, but it was mighty hot in the late morning and afternoon! In the evening, we went to the Spur 406 camping site to blacklight. It was crazy successful with the mothing!

April 7: explored the Dan A Hughes unit of the Devil's River State Natural Area. This was fairly rugged terrain, and the roads were a little nerve-racking. This area is normally closed to the public, so it was pretty special that we got to check it out. In the afternoon, we went to a park close to the San Felipe creek, and then the group met up for dinner at a Mexican restaurant.

April 8: explored Kickapoo Caverns State Park with a couple folks and headed back home.

I've been using a lot of the other ID's already created by others:

And a neat new kind of project:

So many of these other iNatters are far more skilled at photography than I am -- I'll likely link out to their photos as I upload my observations.

Overall, it was such a great gathering -- I'm already thinking of locations for the next one in Texas! Maybe the Lower Rio Grande Valley? Some place in the panhandle? Guadalupe Mountains? Lots of places are possible!

Posted on April 13, 2018 01:28 AM by sambiology sambiology | 8 comments | Leave a comment

January 16, 2018

Del Rio -- details! iNat gathering and bioblitz at Amistad and Devil's River!

Hey friends,

I finally have an update to the Del Rio gathering! The dates are the same (April 5 - 8), but the location has been now been narrowed down a touch. Here are the details - big time thanks to @gcwarbler for scouting some of these places (oh, and these can change some, but this is the general vicinity):

April 5: explore around Lake Amistad National Recreation Park, black lighting in the evening around this area…

April 6: explore some more around Lake Amistad National Recreation Park, black lighting in the evening around this area…

April 7: explore the Dan A Hughes State Natural Area (normally closed to public, but I've got the ok for us to explore here!) around Devil’s Creek, black lighting in this evening around this area…

April 8: : explore more of the Dan A Hughes State Natural Area and black light somewhere in the vicinity…

I wish I could stay longer, but I’ve got obligations on Monday, April 9, so I have to leave after lunch on April 8 (although, I’m actively trying to get out of this!)...

I think there are some folks that are planning on staying longer and going over to Big Bend either before or after, and they will maybe stop by Seminole Canyon State Park (heard this place is great) or other spots in the vicinity.

Here are some more of the nitty gritty details...

There *WAS* an airport in Del Rio... Alas, the closest airport is a few hours away in San Antonio, probably...

I’ll be staying in Del Rio, at this Quality Inn and Suites. There are quite a few hotels in the area… , all at relatively reasonable prices. There is camping at Lake Amistad as well. Also, there may be some other lodging options. @brentano was mentioning this to me.

Food: I’m not expecting us to do any fine dining during this little venture, so if you are able to bring food, bring it! I’m planning on doing some grocery shopping, and hopefully I’ll get some stuff for a weenie roast or whatever on at least one evening.
NO FACILITIES at some of these places, especially the Dan A Hughes State Natural Area! Read up on how to poo in the woods. Bring lots of water — by this time of year, it may already get a little warm (great for moths!), so we need to prep for this. At the grocery store, we should load up on water and drinks to stay hydrated.

So, comment and let folks know if you’re able to make it, where you’ll be staying, if you’ve got room in the car, etc...

I’m making t-shirts too! If you plan on going, comment what size shirt you want. I’m not making moola off of these shirts, so if you could bring like 10 bucks if you want one, that’d offset the costs. And if you don’t want a shirt, that’s ok too. :)

The point of this trip is to collect data for these areas (Val Verde County doesn’t have too too many data points on iNat), but most of all to connect with other naturalists in real life. Bring collecting gear if you want (nets and stuff), but we’ll only plan on taking digital vouchers on iNat. If push comes to shove, I do have a collections permit for the SNA, but I’d rather us just collect via photos.

I hope you can make it! If you’re not able to, that’s totally ok — there will be others in the future, I promise.

Tagging these folks that have shown interest on this trip — tag others that you think may be interested too. Ideally, this is for some pretty hardcore iNatters. :) Oh, and if you’re not planning on coming and don’t want to get drowned out in notices, you can ‘unfollow’ this post in the settings.
@nathantaylor7583 @kimberlietx @naturemom @connlindajo @greglasley @scottbuckel @itmndeborah @finatic @pileated @james5 @muir @nanofishology @bouteloua @kueda @loarie @tiwane @tadamcochran @alisonnorthup @gyrrlfalcon @amzapp @cosmiccat @mikegras @beschwar @coreyjlange @hydaticus @wildcarrot @susanhewitt @bogslogger @neotomastolemykeys @birdsbatsandbugs @butterflies4fun @aspidoscelis @ptexis @silversea_starsong @psyllidhipster @jaykeller @sea-kangaroo @aztekium @annikaml @anewman @eric_keith @bosqueaaron @cgritz @treegrow @briangooding @joelle @tfandre

Posted on January 16, 2018 03:35 AM by sambiology sambiology | 112 comments | Leave a comment

November 17, 2017

City Nature Challenge, April 27-30, 2018 -- DFW competing with like 75 other cities too!

iNaturalist and real-life friends,

So, there has been a lot of planning going into the next City Nature Challenge. Some of our cameras are still smoking from this past one, but we'll be doing it again in 2018! The dates are in stone: April 27 - 30, 2018. Four intense days where we'll try to document as much as possible throughout the metroplex (anywhere within the 9 counties around Dallas/Fort Worth). Are you ready?!?

I want to make sure that you all know the dates, go ahead and pencil it into the calendar. This time, we'll try our best to have more opportunities to gather, and we'll be having at least one "ID party" after the event to go through observations. This last time, that didn't really happen, and too many observations just rested at "unknown." Again, any and all observations made within the DFW area will count -- check out the area and the observations from the last city nature challenge:

Also, I want you all to know just how often I use the information from the past City Nature Challenge. I emailed the results to many city councils, park boards, city mayors, and city managers throughout the metroplex. They know that not only is there biodiversity in the urban environment, but there are folks that actively want to seek it out. This sort of thing influences policy! If urban planners figure out that we care about nature, they will actively devote spots for natural habitat.

Let's show them again this upcoming year just how biodiversity exists here and how many folks care about it! :)

Competition will be intense this year... like crazy intense. So far about 75 cities around the world have shown interest in participating. Texas will have 7 urban areas playing along: Amarillo, Austin, DFW, El Paso, Houston, Lower Rio Grande Valley, and San Antonio. Lots of partners on board already. Soooo, it will be a major challenge to maintain our lead like last year!

Also, just FYI, more guidelines will be drawn up on the kinds of observations we'll be using and how the competition will be evaluated. Stay tuned -- more details coming up.

Make sure to put it on your calendars! Tell your friends too! :)

Tagging many folks in DFW:
@taogirl @cgritz @kimberlietx @annikaml @bob777 @naturenut @walkingstick2 @wildcarrot @suz @tfandre @denver @andyk @itmndeborah @mchlfx @charley @brentano @zooga1961 @tadamcochran @butterflies4fun @dfwuw @jblinde @cwd912nb @kalamurphyking @daniel112 @atassin @galactic_bug_man @rmorgan @squaylei2000 @melindawpajak @aguilita @rehb @alchemist2000 @mustardlypig @fiddleman @cameralenswrangler @catenatus @gaberlunzi @mertmack1 @griff @genebem @lkholt @taharms48 @jwn7882 @oddfitz @picklepastures @phlank @cindylcobb5 @brenledbetter @spqnancy @sy25805 @nativefishnic @lulubelle @drtifflipsett @chuckd @katelyn3 @andrewbrinker @juliayl @miscelaineous @lpenn @briang @donaldhapp @lbullington24 @karinsaucedo @nerdywithnature @taosit @ryan3 @jillnugent @brennan3909 @aynhart @birdsbatsandbugs @postoak @sarahg @mnbrewer @danimal @ntc @sara39 @spteng @wilddallas @kimberlywalks @fratto @rmarusak @sammyjames @missypelican @diatomwu @littlebitt_of_nature @karen115 @wlhwildlife @jaquiring @amynature @apcorboy @laurastracke @flowerfreak @lseman @cosmiccat @betsymarsh @allopatry @lovebirder @valt @abigailmm @k8thegr8 @justjenny7 @cmoret @naturemom @gregfw @eangler @magatr0n @joshmols @caseyp @schylerbrown @elisewalkerolc @bogslogger @troutlily57 @stephaniehughes @chuckwilliamson @marcie12h @txstack @cdroz105 @perkpenn @dagmar @sandrahorton @juliethibodeaux

Posted on November 17, 2017 04:42 PM by sambiology sambiology | 98 comments | Leave a comment

November 07, 2017

Too many notifications? Dashboard filling up? Be sure to check your account settings!

Just an FYI...

If you get LOTS and lots of notifications on your observations or on observations you id, you can modify your account setting so that you don't get notified of ID agreements.

Just go to your profile page, click on "Edit account settings & profile" (located under your profile icon, if you've selected one). Then, scroll down a bit to "activity settings." There you can select or deselect these:

Notify me of mentions (e.g. @username)
Notify me about confirming identifications (Receive notifications about identifications that match your own. If you opt out of this you will only receive notifications about identifications of taxa that don't match the taxon in your own identification exactly.)

Just fyi! :)

Also, I can't emphasize enough just how important ID's are -- even agreeing ones. After talking to folks that get ID's on their observations, it's a big deal to them! Seriously -- even the 7 agreeing ID's of a northern cardinal, it's valuable to the observer -- that's positive feedback that encourages them to go back out and observe more. That's a good thing!

So, please continue to add in ID's where you can. It matters. :)

Posted on November 07, 2017 09:10 PM by sambiology sambiology | 8 comments | Leave a comment

October 25, 2017

Rockwall -- another bioblitz! This time at a larger park with more habitats... November 4th, Harry Myers Park.

Several folks showed up for the September 15 survey at a new nature park in Rockwall (, and we're continuing a mission to document as many species in Rockwall county as we possible can! :)

On November 4th from 9:00 am until noon or so, we'll go to Harry Myers Park to document stuff. It will hopefully draw a few people from the public too -- I'll give a presentation on how to use iNaturalist to whomever shows up, and we may guide a few folks on how to make some observations.

Not too much has been documented from the park so far:

It's a pretty nice park -- about 60 acres with several recreational spots, but LOTS of nature-y spots too... There are a few ponds, some forested areas, a restored prairie, and a nice creek. Here's the location: (815 East Washington, Rockwall, Texas 75087)

Why are we doing this? We want to show people that diversity exists here and that land management decisions need to address wildlife and habitat. The only way to do this is with empirical evidence of the presence of biodiversity -- in this case, we'll use iNat observations to show how many species are in this area. Park board, city council, and other decision makers in Rockwall are watching this. Hopefully you'll join me! :)

Tagging these folks that have been to local bioblitzes before -- feel free to tag others that you think may be interested too:
@taogirl @cgritz @kimberlietx @bob777 @annikaml @aguilita @tfandre @suz @naturenut @denver @wildcarrot @andyk @mchlfx @itmndeborah @zooga1961 @charley @dfwuw @butterflies4fun @tadamcochran @brentano @jblinde @atassin @kalamurphyking @walkingstick2 @squaylei2000 @rmorgan @daniel112 @rehb @galactic_bug_man @fiddleman @gaberlunzi @mertmack1 @phlank @oddfitz @brenledbetter @cwd912nb @lulubelle @cameralenswrangler @briang @jwn7882 @diatomwu @k8thegr8 @cosmiccat @nickmdal @interlibrarylowe @katelyn3 @spqnancy @kimberlywalks @naturemom @shutterpug @spteng
Again, no obligations to join, but it should be some fun! :) Let me know if you have any questions or concerns too.

Posted on October 25, 2017 09:15 PM by sambiology sambiology | 11 comments | Leave a comment