Q. We have enjoyed watching hummingbirds at my son's feeder in Virginia. What time of year can we expect hummingbirds here and what can we plant to attract them?
A. Hummingbirds usually are seen here in the fall and spring although some stay through the winter. They favor red/orange tubular flowers for feeding. Use firebush, firespike, pentas, necklace pod and firecracker to encourage them to visit.
Q. Can you give me some information about birdscaping?
A. Birds need a consistent supply of water, food and a safe nesting place. They prefer native plants because they are well adapted to them. Plant a red cedar grove with marlberry and beautyberry beneath to provide different plant levels, cover, and a good food source. Other bird-attracting trees include oak, red maple, dahoon holly, mulberry and lysiloma among many others. Large shrubs could include golden dewdrop, marlberry, wax myrtle, elderberry and eleagnus. Smaller shrubs could include Surinam cherry, Viburnum suspensum and rose. Vines could include Mysore blackberry and Virginia creeper. Your local library, botanical gardens and bookstores have good sections on Florida birds and wildlife. To get your garden certified through the Florida Wildlife Habitat Program, you will need pictures, a landscape plan, a plant list and provisions you have made for food, water and shelter. If you are on the Internet go to the website for the Florida Cooperative Extension Services wildlife page at http://www.wec.ufl.edu/Extension/ where you will find all the information you need.
Q. Something is singing at night in my trees. What kind of creature is it that makes such a racket?
A. The noisemakers are probably tree frogs, which are very beneficial amphibians. They kill many mosquitoes, flies, cockroaches and other noxious insects and often hang around outdoor lights where insects congregate. The racket is usually connected
|with mating and does not last long
_ just a few weeks. I would suggest coexistence as the frogs perform such
a good service for us year round. There are no chemical controls, as the
tree frogs are considered very beneficial.
Q. I have striped snails living in my citrus tree. How do I get rid of them?
A. The small striped snails do no harm to the citrus tree. I would leave them alone. They feed on lichens and algae that grow on the bark of citrus and other trees. Some of these snail varieties are found on only one specific island in the Keys. They are very beautiful and should be preserved.
Q. Can you tell me what happened to the small green chameleons that we used to have in Florida? Now we have the much larger curly-tailed lizards in their place.
A. The small green chameleons were probably eaten by the larger curly-tailed lizards. The somewhat larger Cuban anole also has displaced the native green anole in Southern Florida.
Q. I am going crazy here with so many wiggly creatures crawling around. There are lizards all over my screened-in patio and they crawl up into the tubing of my patio furniture. How can I get rid of them?
A. The small lizards that you find in your patio are very beneficial in the yard. They eat palmetto bugs and many other noxious insects and do not harm plants. If you have a screened patio I would check for openings where the lizards could get in. Seal the openings with strip insulation or other filler. I would flush the tubes of your patio furniture with a garden hose. Again, seal the tube ends to prevent the lizards from entering. I do not know of a commercial spray for lizards. Ammonia could be used but would kill plants and grass. I would prune back overgrown shrubbery in the area. The lizards prefer vegetation to hide in.