Trip to Florida

This will be the first post of this blog. For now, this blog is experimental and is a work in progress as I learn how to get things going on here.

Recently, I drove to Florida with my girlfriend and stayed down there for about two weeks. While there, I found a great variety of ants and other insects. This was a pleasant surprise for me since, here in New Jersey, most wild life is hibernating this time of the year.

In total, I found close to twenty species of ants, many of which were completely new to me. I took this opportunity to practice my macro photography skills. Here is a list of the ants I found while in Florida:

  • Solenopsis invicta
  • Pogonomyrmex badius
  • Pheidole metallescens 
  • Pheidole dentata
  • Pheidole morrisii
  • Pheidole floridana
  • Dorymyrmex sp. (2)
  • Crematogaster sp. (2)
  • Camponotus floridanus
  • Camponotus planatus
  • Odontomachus sp.
  • Paratrechina sp.
  • Cyphomyrmex sp.
  • Prenolepis imparis
  • Ponera sp. 
  • Pseudomyrmex sp.

I will not show a picture of all of these ants as that would take up too much space. I’ll show some of my better shots in no particular order.

These are just four of many shots I took while on vacation. Aside from ants, I also took a few pictures of interesting meteorological phenomena while in Florida.

Most of what I found can be classified as ice halos. A few days of my trip featured a high layer of cirrostratus clouds. These clouds are mainly composed of tiny ice crystals in most latitudes, even as far south as Florida. A unique property of these ice crystals is that they reflect and focus light into interesting features.

I stayed along the Gulf Coast, near Tampa, until sunset to capture the event on camera. Fortunately for me, right as the sun was setting a patch of high cirrus clouds came in and created a spectacular ice halo display. I managed to capture sundogs (faintly visible), the 22-degree halo (faintly visible) , the upper tangent arc, and the sunvex parry arc.

The first three are considered common, and can be seen as often as twice a week in many locations. However, the Sunvex Parry arc is considered rare.

These halos are very photogenic, but how did they come to be? It all has to do with how the ice crystals in the clouds are aligned. According to Atmospheric Optics (http://www.atoptics.co.uk/), they state:

“First recorded in 1820 by Parry during his search for the North West Passage, the arcs are rare. The column crystals with their long axes nearly horizontal which form tangent arc are even further constrained in the Parry orientation ( http://www.atoptics.co.uk/halo/parry1.htm  to see a diagram of Parry orientation). Parry oriented crystals have their long axes and their upper and lower prism side faces nearly horizontal.”

With a portion of the crystals in the cloud aligned in the Parry orientation, I was able to capture these amazing images.

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About wxmatt

I'm a meteorologist with a deep interest in insects as well as the weather.
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