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Florida Butterflies~Giant Swallowtail

9 Jan

A Time to Live

Melody Hendrix


The giant swallowtail, Papilio cresphontes Cramer, is a striking, wonderfully “exotic”-looking butterfly that is abundant in Florida.

It is the largest butterfly species in the United States and Canada with a wingspan within the ranges of 4 to 6 inches. The wings are colored black or blackish brown and feature yellow banding on both the fore and hind wing dorsally. Each hind wing tail features a yellow-orange colored eye, the eye can also appear reddish yellow. Another single blue band can be distinguished above the eye. Distinction between males and females is very difficult as both sexes are similar, however, females feature longer wing spans than males as adults. The larval or caterpillar stage is very large and can be considered a pest due to its habit of feeding on the foliage of most Citrus species. They are refered to as “orangedogs” A few can quickly defoliate small or young plants. However, larvae can be tolerated on large dooryard citrus trees in order to enjoy the soon-to-develop magnificent adult butterfly stage
 The giant swallowtail is widely distributed throughout the American continent. Its range extends from southern New England across the northern Great Lakes states, into Ontario, through the southern portions of the Central Plains to the Rocky Mountains. The species ranges southward to Florida and the Caribbean, into the southwestern United States, and on through Mexico to Central and South America.

The giant swallowtail is very common throughout the entire state of Florida. It is active throughout the year in southern Florida, and is common in northern Florida, except in January and February. The giant swallowtail is very distinct from all other swallowtails found in Florida.

Adult butterflies sip nectar from many flowers and are common, but spectacular, visitors to butterfly gardens. Identified nectar sources include azalea, bougainvillea, Japanese honeysuckle, goldenrod, dame’s rocket, bouncing Bet, and swamp milkweed. They may also sip liquid from manure. A collective name for a group of butterflies is called a ‘Kaleidoscope.

Adult males patrol flyways through pine woods or citrus groves searching for females. Flight is very strong and leisurely, and the butterflies may glide long distances between wing beats.

Courtship and copulation occur in the afternoon.

The five larval instars stages differ in appearance but they all share a resemblance to bird droppings. Younger instars are more realistic bird-dropping mimics due to their smaller size. Mature larvae usually rest on stems or leaf petioles, but younger larvae often rest in plain view on the upper surfaces of leaves where bird droppings would be expected.
Below is a newly hatched larva of the giant swallowtail, Papilio cresphontes Cramer.
They are refured to as  “CATS”in this fuzzy instar stage.

 Larvae defend themselves against predators (both insects and vertebrates) and parasitic insects by being less visible through cryptic coloration and pattern like resembling bird droppings.

The larvae possess an osmeterium, an orange or reddish Y-shaped eversible gland that is located mid-dorsally behind the head. When attacked by small predators, the larva extrudes the gland and attempts to wipe it against the attacker. The osmeterium of fourth and fifth instars contains a highly noxious, pungent mixture of chemicals.

The top photo, the caterpillar just shed it’s last skin and attached itself to a stick with silk and sling.

 Below it has become a hardened chrysalis and will go through metamorphasis for about 10 days before emerging into a beautiful butterfly.

Below is a newly emerged Giant Swallowtail. Wings inflated but not dry. Before the wings totally dry, this is a perfect opportunity to effortlessly take beautiful butterfly photos.

Take your photos when there is plenty of light. Shoot many different angles. Use a flash when the sun is behind the butterfly. Otherwise, best with natural light. I will talk more about photographing butterflies later.
Next week we will explore the Gulf Frittilary butterfly.



I am retired and enjoying life. My hobbies are my 5 grandchildren, son and daughter, and my loving husband. I am a photographer and extreme nature lover. I love spending time in my garden or in the wilderness connected to God my Creator.

Best Thanksgiving Dinner Recipe

18 Nov

Walking by Faith, Not by Sight

Janet Perez Eckles





My friend stopped by the other day. We sat at the kitchen table and chatted. She rumbled in her purse. “You have to see the pictures I took during our trip,” she said.

I smiled.

“Oops,” she added, “I always forget you…well…that you can’t see.”

“I forget myself,” I said with a chuckle. (I like folks with a sense of humor.)

For me, having no sight is a way of life…actually a wonderfully blessed life. My days sweep by with gratitude, so much thankfulness that I can hear, walk, talk, and love. I am truly rich with so much.

And for that reason, I thought I’d share my unique recipe for this Thanksgiving dinner. I don’t mind if you copy it and serve it to your loved ones.

  1. Gather the ingredients stored in the cabinet of God’s Word.
  2. Stir together large portions of His promises, spoonfuls of His direction, and dashes of His admonitions.
  3. Place in a large bowl several cups of commitment to read His Word.
  4. Add generous amounts of faith to cover all traces of doubt.
  5. Blend together, adding sprinkles of laughter, of enjoyment, fun, and unexpected surprises.
  6. Bake in the oven of your heart till triumph is golden brown.

With songs of thanksgiving playing in the background, present it to the guests who come into your life. And unlike the rest of the world, instead of entering the doors to stress, gloom or anxiety for the days to come, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name” (Psalm 100:4).

Why? “For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations” (Psalm 100:5).

It’s your turn, can you share some things you’ll be giving thanks for this year? Would love, love to read them. You can send them to me via comment.

Did you know most of my writings are drawn from my bestselling book, Simply Salsa: Dancing Without Fear at God’s Fiesta? Did you get your own copy yet? And how about one for that person who needs encouragement and a reason to feel joy again?

Simply Salsa is available HERE.


Video sneak peek:





Counting Our Southern Blessings

30 Nov

As we continue to celebrate and enjoy time with our famiies this Thanksgiving, I thought it would be fun to share a very Southern poem written by my author friend Bonnie Latino. If you are from the South or love the South  feel free to share this~Onisha


via Counting Our Southern Blessings. – Venture Galleries.

12 Things You Should Know about Indie Authors Before You Snub Them

19 Nov

DiVoran and my daughter are both Indie authors. It is an exciting time to be an author. Did  you know it is also an exciting time to be a reader?

12 Things You Should Know about Indie Authors Before You Snub Them.

If you are interested in DiVoran and Rebekah’s books, you can find them at Rebekah Lyn Books  along with great writing books by Mary Sayler.

An Interview with Mary Harwell Sayler

21 Oct

My Take

DiVoran Lites

Mary Sayler at FL BeachI met Mary Harwell Sayler at a writer’s conference where she was the teacher and I was the student. Mary didn’t have a watch and couldn’t tell when it was time to end the lesson. She is an excellent writer and teacher and we all wanted to hear as much as we could, so we didn’t care If she didn’t end on time.

Mary was staying at the conference center of the church I attended, but it wasn’t easy for her to get away, so the next day I took an inexpensive watch and gave it to her. She received it graciously and from there we became not only student and teacher, but the best of friends.

I took her poetry writing course and she helped with my first novel. I drove to her hometown once a month and we learned about each other’s families. Mary was endlessly creative and constantly encouraging of my efforts to learn how to write poetry. She has never stopped being a role-model for me and a supporter. Check out her links, get to know her. You will be glad Mary Harwell Sayler has come into your life.

     Mary, your newest book is Christian Writer’s Guide. Can you tell us how this book is different from other writer’s guides that are available?

Great writing book

Click to view on Amazon

Definitely! The most noticeable difference occurs in the opening pages of the e-book, which begins with prayer, discusses the importance of a biblical foundation for writing in any genre or readership, then helps Christian writers discern a gift or calling in the writing ministry. Also, such sections as “Listen for The Voice in your voice” address God’s leading. Since I wanted to offer as much practical information as possible and keep the price low, the last part of the e-book includes an extensive Glossary to help writers learn the unique terminology and techniques associated with writing.

     You have written many books, you are a teacher of writing poetry, you have written novels, and you write reference books. Would you tell us if any of these would stand out as a favorite subject and the reason for it?

As a child, I began to read the Bible regularly and write poems, so those “first loves” have not changed. Instead of getting a regular job, I earned a small income by instructing through critiques and correspondence courses on various aspects of writing, and frankly, I learned a lot from my students! In recent years, I heavily researched and wrote a couple of life-health Living in the The Nature poemencyclopedias because I needed to know more about those particular subjects for my own health. That work also put a new roof on our 100+-year-old house! My biggest thrill as a writer, however, came when I placed my first book of poetry, Living in the Nature Poem, with an environmental publisher. Those poems take a realistic, rather than a romantic, approach to nature but hopefully help readers to see the intricacies of creation and the loving God who created such a spectacular variety.

     Have you always wanted to be a writer, or did it come to you in a sudden revelation?

From about junior high school on, I thought I’d be a writer, librarian, or artist. When I took my first art course in college though, the instructor graded us on a curve with the only top grades going to students who had studied art and worked as commercial artists. Getting a C in the class upset and mystified me, ending any thoughts of an art career.

     What kind of books do you like to read?
Since I have little time to read, I focus on my all-time favorites: The Bible in almost any English translation, countless volumes of poetry, and award-winning books for children.

     Did you have a mentor or someone who inspired you when you first began to write?

My parents encouraged each of my siblings and me in the creative arts. Teachers encouraged me too, and I’m especially blessed to have a supportive husband who believes in me.

   How did you break into publishing.

I began freelancing as a stay-at-home mom during my children’s naptimes then school hours. After placing articles with parenting magazines our church distributed, I wrote to the denominational headquarters to ask about writing poems and stories for children’s take-home papers. Later I wrote curriculum and Bible stories on assignment for denominational and nondenominational publishers. Since the kids and I often visited our local library, I got to know the kinds of stories children like to read, so I wrote a few children’s books and inspirational romance novels. The second year I taught at a Christian writers’ conference, one of the editors and I enjoyed chatting over lunch, and not long after that, she called to ask if I’d think about writing a series of devotional books. I said I’d pray about it, and immediately the idea came for a 7-book series of devotionals. Some time after this, our pastor asked my husband and me to plan an in-house church retreat, and from that came the book What A Body! on developing ministry gifts. Later, a writer-friend asked if I’d ever consider writing encyclopedias – right at a time I needed to know more about the skeletal system in order to make informed decisions about my own spinal woes! I researched enough information to put together a book proposal and received a contract shortly thereafter. Since that book did well, other health-related writing opportunities arose.

     What writing projects do you plan to work on next?

I’d love to do almost anything related to the Bible. For example, I recently realized I have enough “Bible people” poems for a book. Also, I’ve been researching and talking about favorite topics, such as prayer, for years, so I finally began putting together book proposals for those.

     Tell us about your Facebook group Christian Poets & Writers.

Most of my life, I’ve lived in small towns and now in rural Florida where few opportunities exist for me to get together with other Christians who write. I’ve pretty much had to learn the hard way what works and what doesn’t in writing, which can make a lonely job even lonelier! With the advent of social networking, however, all that changed. I joined various online communities for Christians and/or for writers, but Christian poets consistently got left out! Since I wanted to encourage Christians in all kinds of writing ministries, a group on Facebook seemed like an ideal way to do this and offer tips occasionally too. Poets and writers from almost every denomination have now joined us from all over the world, so we’ve become a highly eclectic and ecumenical group, who can learn much from one another. With my own ecumenical background and strong conviction that we, as the church, can make a huge difference in the world, I especially want to encourage other Christians to use their ministry gifts to up-build the Body of Christ.

     Sounds like a lot of work! What’s your favorite way to relax?

With woods, water, and wildlife all around us, I like to meander down the unpaved road in front of our house or take a bike ride or just sit on the deck and do nothing except try to remember the names of birds flitting between the evergreens or tiptoeing by the cattails along the margins of our little lake.

     Is there a scripture verse that has special meaning for you?

My personal favorite since childhood has been David’s prayer in Psalm 19:14: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.”

I also like to use Bible verses as themes for novels, and Romans 8:28 is the one I’ve used most often: “For we know all things work for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.”

     Mary, I have thoroughly enjoyed this interview and the opportunity to share your talents and wisdom with everyone. Where may our readers find out more about you, your editing services and purchase your books?
I have a website – Mary and Amazon provides an Author Page for anyone who has books or e-books listed on their site –  . Also, Poets & Writers magazine hosts a website with an online Directory of Poets whose work has been traditionally published. P&W offers this for published writers, too, but if I understood correctly, you have to choose one, so my bio and poetry credits went into the poet’s directory –

 Thank you to Mary for agreeing to this interview. She has a detailed bio page on Poets & Writers. You can also find her on Twitter, LinkedIn and of course  Facebook where she moderates the popular and helpful page, Christian Poets and Writers.

What Was She Thinking? An Interview with Novelist, Poet and Painter, DiVoran Lites

11 Feb

I consider myself a reader rather than a writer. Not only am I a reader, I am a very curious one. I love knowing why a writer choses a subject or location and sometimes I just want to know “what was she thinking? To satisfy my unseemly curiosity I decided to offer author interviews.

For my first interview, I have chosen novelist, poet and artist, DiVoran Lites. She is a chief contributor here at OldThingsRNew and one of my dearest friends.

jungle divoranHer debut novel Sacred Spring was released on Amazon in November 2012.

DiVoran, I would like to welcome you as my first author interview and thank you for allowing me to practice on you.

 Thanks for choosing me. I feel honored. It will give me a chance to think through some of the motives, the trials, and the joys of writing novels. I love anything to do with writing for example, grammar books such as, Eats, Shoot & Leaves, by Lynn Truss, to listening in the car to Building Great Sentences, a college course from The Great Courses. In other words, I’m one of those who enjoy the nitty-gritty of writing, so this will be fun.

I know you love nature. Is that why you chose to set your first novel at a Florida spring?

As you’ve probably heard readers say before, the setting chose me. Many years ago, we camped at De Leon Springs. It was before it became a State Park, when it was a bit run-down and the word was that it was  slated to be sold for a subdivision, but I thought that would be a shame because De Leon is one of old Florida’s most beloved, beautiful and historical spots. My imagination worked as we swam, ate, slept and in general made ourselves at home and relaxed with our children. One friend said I took up my pen and created an alternate fate for the springs.

The Story of Sacred Spring could have been written without the faith element. Why did you choose to include faith?

Could it have been written without the faith element? Maybe, but I couldn’t have been the one to do it. Leaving God out is like leaving out the sun, the moon, and the stars. Way before there was ever such a thing as a “Christian Book Market,” there were writers who included their faith in their work. A great story is paramount, but to my way of thinking any book that turns out to be worthwhile is made up of what is called “moral fiction.” Moral is good, but why not take it just that logical next step and let God join the party. He wants a part in everything we do.

Do you have a work in progress?

My work in progress is the second novel in my trilogy of Sacred Spring, Living Spring, and Clear Spring.  My husband has read the chapters and marked things that needed clarification. It’s a big help, because when I know what I’m talking about I assume any reader would know, but that isn’t always so.

Writing your first book can be a challenge, why did you choose  to start out with a trilogy?

In a way, Living Spring is a sequel, to Sacred Spring, but in another way, it isn’t. My favorite author, D. E. Stevenson wrote seventy novels and you could be sure that when you started one you would again come upon someone you knew in a previous one. I loved that. It was always the most delightful surprise. The story goes forward with the lives from Sacred Spring, and the loose ends from Sacred Springs slowly tie themselves into tidy bows, but Living Spring is a full new story as well.

Many of the people who read Sacred Spring ask when they’ll learn what happens next. For those of us anxious to read Living Spring, when do you expect it will be published?

It is almost ready and  I plan a Spring release.

I know that you have been writing for a long time. How did you decide to publish through Amazon?

Some time ago, when I first wrote Sacred Spring I did all the things you’re supposed to do to get a book published. Far more people do their best to write good stories with great characters and follow all the rules in getting them published than those who actually get published. I had a good book. I won a writing contest with it and got a lot of great reviews and encouragement from various publishers’ editors I met at writer’s conferences. I had an agent, for a time, as well. However, for who knows what reason, no one actually bought it.

The publishing houses spend so much money and time getting books out there, they have to be sure they will make their money back plus a profit, so a lot of times they go with authors who already have the highest possible sales—the big ones like Nora Roberts and John Grisham. The competition, in other words for the publisher as well as for the unknown writer is fierce.

When I discovered I could publish with Kindle for free I grabbed the chance because I knew my books and my writing would be worthwhile to its particular audience. If I hadn’t tried one more time, it would have been like spending hours, days, money, toil and a lot of love on a huge banquet and then hiding it all in the kitchen where no one could taste it.

For our readers who might have a manuscript in a drawer or have always wanted to write but were afraid of the publishing process,  would you share your publishing journey?

First, I was advised to get a professional editor and given the name of Beth Lynne at BZ Hercules. Not only did she go several extra miles for me, but also she was consistently kind and encouraging. Her services were reasonable and she did it all very quickly. She prepared the book for Kindle (apparently Kindle speaks a different computer language) and she prepared it to be printed in paperback by Create Space. Beth has an affiliate who can and will do everything to get you a good cover whether you supply the images or she does. That was especially important, because I painted the covers for my trilogy myself and wanted them to show to the best advantage. I’ve been thrilled with the work of Laura La Roche at on Sacred Spring and can’t wait to see what she’ll do with the cover to Living Spring. I never dreamed publishing could be so easy, nor that self or indie publishing could be so inexpensive, especially with its print on demand through Amazon.

The theme of our blog is old things are new. Tell me something from your past that you feel has become new  or fresh again.Our blog is called Old Things R New reminding us that when we receive Christ as Lord and Savior all things in our lives, in our pasts, all mistakes, and sins, are gone because he atoned for them–paid for them, saved us from them. The new life that ensues is wonderful, full of surprises and serendipities.

One of the things in my life that was old, but has now become fresh and new is my friendship with Onisha Ellis. We met over thirty years ago and helped each other through a time of spiritual questioning. We were dear friends, then things changed and we were no longer running in the same circles or members of the same church. Onisha worked every day, I got busy doing my things and we fell out of contact, accidently meeting in the mall or the library and loving it, but not getting together again because of our busy lives.

One day I saw Onisha’s daughter, Rebekah Lyn,  in a big store and we got to talking about writing books. I knew she had always wanted to write a novel and I now had one I wanted to write too, so we agreed to help and support each other in starting those very books. We met for over a year, by end of which each of us had a brand new novel.

Onisha was tremendously involved in Rebekah’s writing career, and was starting her own blog site, Old Things R New. I wrote to her and she invited me to join the blogging team. She also offered to help market my novels and our friendship which, originally, was based on love and mutual respect lifted into new spheres, we had never dreamed of. We now talk almost every day via email. We love discussing so many things. We again have mutual goals and mutual friends and we have each other’s backs, which means so much in today’s society. Now we know that God can take an old, valuable friendship and make it new again. As a matter of fact, the same may be said of my relationships with Patricia Franklin, Judy Wills, and Charlene Gibson whom you probably do not know.

When my daughter was in Girl Scouts we learned a song that said, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other gold.” I thank God now for my Old/ New friends and although I do have newer friends and truly love them, the old friends are newly precious to me, too.

From an Amazon review by author, poet and editor Mary H Sayler:

     This personally awaited book does not belong in the “First Book” category as that implies the work of a novice, which DiVoran Lites is not. For years she has patiently perfected her craft, working on all three books in this trilogy with great care in doing her research, writing, revising, and finally, releasing the novel at a timely time. Her credible characters carry us quickly into their story and the Florida story too, presenting an authentic and lively perspective that’s thought-provoking and well-told.

I would like to thank DiVoran again for agreeing to be my first interview. I hope our readers enjoyed it too. I would appreciate your  feedback.-Onisha

DiVoran Lites books can be found at Amazon


DiVoran Lites aretwork can be viewed at Creative Art Works


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