Floridian Nature

Learn about Florida's beautiful and unique nature.

Florida Nature: Endangered Insects & Mollusks
Invertebrates have four species endangered in the state of Florida. They have no threatened species at this time, but have four species of special concern.. Of the million or more animal species in the world, more than 98% are invertebrates. Invertebrates don't have an internal skeleton made of bone. Many invertebrates have a fluid-filled, hydrostatic skeleton, like the jelly fish or worm. Others have a hard outer shell, like insects and crustaceans. There are many types of invertebrates. The most common invertebrates include the protozoa, annelids, echinoderms, mollusks and arthropods. Arthropods include insects, crustaceans and arachnids. Endangered and at risk invertebrates in the state of Florida  include corals, crustaceans, insects, and mollusks

Insects- There are well over 1 million different known species of insects in the world, and some experts estimate that there might be as many as 10 million. Insects are arthropods (an invertebrate that has an external skeleton, a segmented body, and jointed attachments called appendages).Insects have a hard external skeleton, a three-part body, three pairs of jointed legs, compound eyes, and two antennae. They are the most diverse group of animals on the planet. Insects represent more than half of all known living organisms!

Miami blue butterfly, an endangered invertebrate in the state of FloridaMiami Blue Butterfly (Cyclargus) Endangered- The Miami blue butterfly is a small, brightly colored butterfly endemic to Florida. Males are bright metallic blue dorsally. Females are primarily dark gray with blue scaling toward the wing bases and orange-capped black sub-marginal eyespots on each hind wing. The Miami blue butterfly was thought to be extinct after the only remaining colony, which was located on Key Biscayne, was wiped out by Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Once abundant and widespread, the butterfly has become considerably more rare and now only occurs in a single small, isolated colony site within the boundaries of Bahia Honda State Park in the Lower Florida Keys. An interesting aspect of the Miami blue's life cycle is that its caterpillars are sometimes tended by ants much like ants tend aphids.

Schaus' swallowtail butterfly a rare and endangered butterfly in the state of FloridaSchaus’ Swallowtail Butterfly (Heraclides aristodemus ponceanus) Endangered- Named after Dr. William Schaus who discovered the large, showy butterfly in Miami at the turn of the last century, the Schaus swallowtail was one of the first insects protected under the Endangered Species Act. It is also one of the rarest on the list. The butterfly depends upon the semi-shade of tropical hardwood forests (hammocks) to survive. Its original territory in South Florida has shrunken considerably; now it is only found in the Florida Keys. Dark brown and yellow butterfly with a wingspan of about 4 inches and "tails" that are straight-edged rather than teardrop shaped.

Mollusks- A mollusk is another name for a shellfish. Shellfish are not all fish and many of them live on land. Not all shellfish have shells! There are three groupings of shellfish. They include:
Hatchet-footed - These live inside of two shells that are connected by a muscular hinge which can open and close the shell. They are referred to as bivalves. Lines on the shell tell how old the mollusk is as the shell gets bigger, the older the shellfish gets. Clams, scallops, oysters and mussels are bivalves.
Belly-footed - These have just one spiral shell and carry their shells on their backs. They are called univalves. The snail, slug, periwinkle and conch belong to this group.
Head-footed - These have a definite head surrounded by tentacles. The squid and octopus are two in this group.

Florida tree snailFlorida Tree Snail (Liguus fasciatus) SSC (1)- A large snail, the Florida tree snail reaches a length of 1.6 - 2.7 inches. This snail has  a high conical shell of variable thickness and texture, with a white or cream background color. Although sometimes solid white, the shell is more often marked with streaks or bands of variable color (yellow, brown, pink, green) and width.  The Florida tree snail occurs from Broward and Collier counties south through the Keys.  The Snail body is grayish tan without markings. This species prefers smooth-barked trees. On the mainland it utilizes wild tamarind, poisonwood, gumbo limbo, and mastic. Additional host trees in the Keys are Jamaican dogwood,  pigeon plum,  ironwood,  and other hardwoods native to the Florida Keys hammocks. The Florida tree snail is dormant from December to April.

Stock Island Tree snail, a mullosk found in Florida keysStock Island Tree Snail (Orthalicus reses) Endangered- The Stock Island tree snail is an arboreal snail inhabiting the hardwood hammocks of the Florida Keys. The Stock Island tree snail is a large, conical snail attaining approximately 1 1/2- 2  inches length. The external ground color is white to buff, with three poorly developed spiral bands and several flame-like purple-brown axial stripes that stop at the lower of the spiral bands. Historically, the Stock Island tree snail was believed to have a very limited distribution, being found only in tropical hardwood hammocks on Stock Island and Key West; although it may have been found in other hammock areas in the Lower Keys. Their distribution has since been artificially extended by collectors who have introduced them to Key Largo and the southernmost parts of the mainland.
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