Panhandle Outdoors

Choosing the Right Tools is Key to Successful Feral Hog Management

Despite efforts by public and private land managers, feral hog populations continue to rise in many areas in Florida.  Feral hogs damage crop fields, lawns, wetlands, and forests.  They can negatively impact native species of plants and animals. ... Read More

Improve Your Life with Panhandle E-Extension Newsletters and UF/IFAS EDIS Resources

If you are a regular reader of Gardening in the Panhandle, you know that this e-newsletter covers many topics related to ornamental and vegetable gardening, Florida-friendly landscaping, pest management, and lawn and garden fertility. But did you also... Read More

Agritourism in North Florida- an Emerging Industry

It seems each weekend this time of year is packed with things to do outside; and for good reason!  The weather is perfect and the holidays are approaching.  Among the many festivals and festivities are a number of... Read More

Exploring the Economic, Environmental and Social Issues Impacting the Coastal Dune Lakes

On a beautiful October day, 35 people gathered at the Camp Helen State Park lodge to share information about the rare Coastal Dune Lakes (CDLs) that line the coast of Walton and Bay Counties. Organized by the University... Read More

The Marshes, they are a-changin’

Discovering something new is possibly the most exciting thing a field biologist can do. As students, budding biologists imagine coming across something no one else has ever noticed before, maybe even getting the opportunity to name a new... Read More

Monarch Migrations Have Begun

Since we are approaching the peak dates in mid-October, it is time to get your gardens ready for migrating monarchs to fuel up on nectar sources. In their Mexican overwintering sites, these monarchs will have to survive on... Read More

A New Kid on the Block: the Cuban (Brown) Anole

In our continuing battle with invasive species, northwest Florida is now home to an invasive lizard. Known as both the Cuban and Brown Anole, this animal has been reported from Big Lagoon, East Hill, North Hill, and Gulf... Read More

Paddle Sports, the Key to Unlocking Ecotourism

In the Panhandle, we are blessed to be surrounded by some of the most beautiful and ecologically diverse, fresh & marine water bodies on the planet. Paddle sports are the perfect way to experience. So, get out and... Read More

The Benefits of a Living Shoreline

Imagine this… You are a sailor on a 16th century Spanish galleon anchored in a Florida Bay south of Tampa. You, along with others, are ordered to go ashore for a scouting trip to set up a base... Read More

In Search of Horseshoe Crabs

Back in the spring, I wrote an article about the natural history of this ancient animal. However, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is interested in the status of horseshoe crabs and they need to know locations... Read More

The Bumble Bee – One of Florida’s Vital Pollinators

“The happiness of the bee and the dolphin is to exist. For man it is to know that and to wonder at it.” Jacques Yves Cousteau Bumble bees are among the most recognizable types of insects. They are... Read More

Wildlife Food Plots for North Florida

About this time each year the minds of sportsman and wildlife aficionados turn towards the planting of wildlife food plots for use by wildlife  in fall, winter , and early spring.  There are many factors to consider when... Read More

Microplastics Awareness Month

For almost 40 years, the Ocean Conservancy has held the International Coastal Cleanup in September. Across the planet hundreds of thousands of volunteers clean marine debris from their shorelines.  The data collected is used by local agencies to... Read More

DNA Barcoding Our Way into Understanding the Lionfish Problem

In the late 1980’s a few exotic lionfish were found off the coast of Dania Florida. I do not think anyone foresaw the impact this was going to have.  Producing tens of thousands of drifting eggs per female... Read More

The American Alligator: a new nuisance for the panhandle?

I recently saw a photograph of an American Alligator (Alligator mississppiensis) crossing Perdido Key Drive on a heavy rain day.  This encounter would surprise some, and unnerve many.  The majority of the nuisance wildlife calls I receive are... Read More

Coastal Erosion–a problem with new solutions

Life on the coast has tremendous benefits; steady sea breezes, gorgeous beaches, plentiful fishing and paddling opportunities. Nevertheless, there are definite downsides to living along it, too. Besides storms like Hurricane Harvey making semi-regular appearances, our proximity to... Read More

Steps for Dealing with Nuisance Wildlife

As a County Agent, I receive a wide variety of calls from clients relating to wildlife. The majority of these calls are quite positive; clients need help improving wildlife habitat or simply need a creature identified to satisfy... Read More

Invasive Exotic Species and Control Workshop

Join us to learn about identifying and controlling some of the most troublesome invasive exotic plants like cogongrass, Japanese climbing fern, privet, and others.  We will also address exotic insects that are causing, or will cause, big headaches... Read More

So What’s Good with Local Seafood?

Actually, if you like seafood – it’s all good! However, not everyone does and sometimes when this question is asked they are interested in not how it taste but where the seafood came from.   In recent years,... Read More

Beekeeping in the Panhandle Summer Series – Starts August 17th

The UF/IFAS Extension Panhandle Agriculture Team is pleased to offer three intermediate level beekeeping classes.  These classes will be offered via interactive web-conferencing at a number of Extension Offices across North Florida and will be taught by state... Read More

Panhandle Outdoors Water School – St. Joseph Bay

Our first POL program will happen this week – August 17 – at the Navarre Beach snorkel reef, and is sold out!  We are glad you all are interested in these programs.   Well!  We have another one for... Read More

Trying to Solve the Marine Debris Problem

Since the early 1970’s, when Chief Iron Eyes Cody shed a tear on a television commercial, we have been trying to reduce the amount of solid waste found along our beaches and within our waters.   Though numerous agencies... Read More

The Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus)

Also known as the Water Moccasin, this is a snake that is all too familiar with most Floridians… Or is it? Several non-venomous water snakes are often confused with the cottonmouth and are thus killed.  That said, cottonmouths... Read More

Snorkel the Gulf Navarre Beach Marine Sanctuary

Photo Credit: Mike Sandler Join the UF/IFAS Natural Resource Extension Agents as we explore the Navarre Beach Marine Sanctuary. Thursday, August 17, 2017 from 9 am until 1 pm. Register today at: https://nbsnorkel.eventbrite.com The Navarre Beach Marine Sanctuary... Read More

Summer Rain in the Florida Panhandle

ARTICLE BY DR. MATT DEITCH; water quality specialist – University of Florida Milton Summer is a great time for weather-watching in the Florida panhandle. Powerful thunderstorms appear out of nowhere, and can pour inches of rain in an... Read More

Lemon bacopa, a beautiful pond plant or a weed?

Bacopa caroliniana, also known as lemon bacopa, is a popular aquatic plant. It is mostly found in the southeastern United States in states such as Florida, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi and even Texas. Lemon bacopa has a... Read More

Finding Common Ground on Climate Change

Climate change is one of those topics that most people don’t want to think much about. It can be overwhelming, it can be controversial, and it can be downright frightening. A year ago, Yale and George Mason University... Read More

Snorkeling Safety at the Jetty

The St Andrew Bay pass jetty is more like a close family friend than a collection of granite boulders. The rocks protect the inlet ensuring the vital connections of commerce and recreation. One of the treasured spots along... Read More

The Summer of Sharks

I am calling this “Summer of Sharks” as if this summer is more of a problem than others are. In fact, it is not… no more, so than any other summer –so we could call any summer the... Read More

The Status of Commercial Fishing and Aquaculture in the U.S. and Florida

ARTICLE WRITTEN BY DR. CHARLES ADAMS, FLORIDA SEA GRANT   The demand for seafood in the US continues to grow. This growth is a function of a number of factors, including the increased awareness of the healthful attributes... Read More

Ecotourism in Northwest Florida

What do you imagine when the word “ecotourism” comes to mind? I know  I usually daydream about a trip my husband I took to Costa Rica several years ago, surrounded by lush tropical rainforests as we ziplined through the... Read More

Sea Turtles of the Panhandle: 2016 Nesting Numbers and Notes

There are five species of sea turtles that nest from May through October on Florida beaches. The loggerhead, the green turtle and the leatherback all nest regularly in the Panhandle, with the loggerhead being the most frequent visitor. ... Read More

Manatee Sightings in the Panhandle

On May 7, 2017 Marsha Stanton spotted a manatee swimming by her pier in Big Lagoon near Pensacola. I am sure this was an exciting moment and Marsha was interested in letting someone know so that the unusual... Read More

With Hurricane Season Approaching, Are You Prepared for an Evacuation?

Hurricane season begins this year on June 1st and ends November 30th. As Floridians, we face the possibility of hurricanes each year. This simply goes with the territory. During these months, it’s important to plan for the threat... Read More

Look Who Is Enjoying the Beach This Spring… An Alligator!

I received a call the week before Earth Day to let me know that an alligator was laying on Pensacola Beach, on the Gulf side, near the gate to Ft. Pickens. This is certainly not something you see... Read More

Am I Living in a Floodplain?

Floods are a common concern in many areas of the U.S. Gulf coastal residents should be particularly aware. Floods may come in the form of flash floods, which come with little warning. Other flood conditions come on slower,... Read More

Sea Grant Publications on the Impacts of the BP Oil Spill

  We are pleased to announce the release of a pair of new bulletins outlining how the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill impacted the popular marine animals dolphins and sea turtles. To read these and other oil spill... Read More

A Florida Native; Tape Grass

Article by Gadsden County Extension Agent DJ Zadarreyal   Vallisneria americana, also known as tape grass or eel grass, is a common native aquatic weed in the state of Florida. Tape grass has tall, grass-like leaves that are... Read More

Respecting the Rip

It was disheartening to read that even with double red flags flying, 22 people had to be recused from the Gulf near Destin, FL recently, and one person lost their life.  In that spirit, I believe it is important... Read More

Horseshoe Crabs; the Ancient Mariner

Growing up in the Pensacola area, I do not remember seeing many horseshoe crabs around here, but I do remember them.  What I actually remember was how common they were further east in the Panama City and St.... Read More

The Florida Master Naturalist Program Training Local AmeriCorps Volunteers

By: Laura Tiu and Sheila Dunning   For the second year in a row, University of Florida Extension Agents Sheila Dunning (horticulture) and Laura Tiu (marine science) taught a Florida Master Naturalist Program (FMNP) Coastal Module to a... Read More

Miniature Plants with Sizeable Character

Some of the world’s smallest flowering plants grow in aquatic environments.  And a number of these tiny aquatic plants grow natively right here in Florida!  Aquatic plants of all kinds display an amazing array of adaptations for growing... Read More

Beavers – Engineering Marvel or Farmer’s Frustration

Even though the “work” beavers do can sometimes cause frustration to land owners, they are truly amazing creatures.  A number of questions have come into the Extension Office lately about managing beavers, so it is a good time... Read More

Local Bluebirds Have Started Nesting

Bluebirds are very energetic birds. If you enjoy watching wildlife in your yard, now is a fantastic time to put up a few bluebird houses. You might gain hours of entertainment watching all the hard work these small... Read More

NISAW 2017: Bamboo

Standing in the midst of a stand of bamboo, it’s easy to feel dwarfed. Smooth and sturdy, the hollow, sectioned woody shoots of this fascinating plant can tower as tall as 70 feet. Unfortunately, bamboo is a real... Read More

NISAW 2017: The Kudzu Bug

A few years ago, Florida is extended a warm welcome to a new pest – The Kudzu Bug! The kudzu bug was first documented in the US in 2009 in Northeast Georgia.  It has quickly spread throughout the... Read More

NISAW 2017: Trying to Stay Ahead of Beach Vitex

Research shows that the most effective time to deal with an invasive species, both in terms of controlling or eradicating the species and money spent to do so, is early on…. What we call Early Detection Rapid Response.... Read More

NISAW 2017: Laurel Wilt

Many invasive plants and insects are introduced in packing materials, including 12 species of ambrosia beetles, which embed themselves in wood used as crates and pallets. While these tiny beetles don’t actually feed on wood, the adults and... Read More

NISAW 2017: Cuban Anole

The brown anole, a lizard native to Cuba and the Bahamas, first appeared in the Florida Keys in 1887. Since then it has moved northward becoming established in nearly every county in Florida. By hitching a ride on... Read More

NISAW 2017: It is Common and Abundant, but Torpedo Grass is Still a Problem

They say the best time to attack an invasive species is early in its arrival. In the early stages is your best chance, using the most cost effective methods, of eradicating an invasive species from a region.  Hence... Read More

NISAW 2017: National Invasive Species Awareness Week

Aliens are invading our forests, pastures, fields and lawns. Well, okay, not aliens but invasive species are invading our beautiful landscapes.  Invasive species are non-native or exotic species that do not naturally occur in an area, cause economic or environmental... Read More

Say it Ain’t So: Important Apalachicola River Water Dispute Ruling Goes Against Florida

In his 137-page report to the U.S. Supreme Court published on Valentine’s Day, a Special Master appointed to oversee the case has stated, “Because Florida has not met its burden, I recommend that the court deny Florida’s request... Read More

Man, It Has Been a Weird Winter

It was February 13, 2017 and the temperature was 74°F… 74!   It has been one strange winter.  The azaleas in my yard have already bloomed, friends of mine have seen butterflies already forming chrysalis, and I have already... Read More

Florida Cover Crops Hold Common Ground

One of the great barriers to progress in most policy discussions is an “Us” vs. “Them” battle based on historic generalizations and unawareness of change and current practices of the two “sides”. The bad news is there has... Read More

Ready for Northwest Florida Artificial Reef Workshop Wednesday February 22

Researchers from University of West Florida recently estimated the value of Artificial Reefs to Florida’s coastal economy. Bay County artificial reefs provide 49.02 million dollars annually in personal income to local residents.  Bay County ranks 8th in the... Read More

Valentine’s Day… Red… and the Column Stinkhorn Fungus!

Valentine’s Day is just a few days away and this month’s theme is evidenced by the color red. Red hearts, bows, roses (imported this time of year from South America) and candy in red boxes This hue is... Read More

Greening Our Community – PV + EV = Flip-flops that Leave Low Trace

I know you’ve seen the rear window decals that announce in stick figures just who could be riding in that SUV – mom, dad, kids of various sizes, and sometimes pets. A clever Florida variation uses big and... Read More

You Say It’s Just a Swamp…

Recent rains have water standing on some Wakulla County real estate, which has been dry for several years. Ponds, natural and dug, are brimming with water reflecting the generous outpouring from the slow and wet weather system, which... Read More

Yep… Those are Bald Eagles You are Seeing

After Hurricane Ivan devastated the Pensacola area in 2004, my son was working to repair docks in local waterways. One day, after working on a project in Bayou Texar (near Pensacola Bay), he came by our house and... Read More

Winter is For Tree Planting

Florida has celebrated Arbor Day since 1886 and has one of the first Arbor Day celebrations in the nation, on the third Friday in January.  Trees establish a root system quickly when they aren’t expending as much energy... Read More

Nature Tourism – Bald Point State Park

Some of the most picturesque and scenic natural areas along north Florida’s Gulf Coast are found in Bald Point State Park. The 4,065 acre park is located on Alligator Point, where Ochlockonee Bay meets Apalachee Bay. Bald Point... Read More

Have a “Tree-mendous” Arbor Day!

Arbor Day has a 145-year history, started in Nebraska by a nature-loving newspaper editor who recognized the many valuable services trees provide. We humans often form emotional attachments to trees, planting them at the beginning of a marriage,... Read More

Christmas”sea” Cheer!

The holiday season is a special time for most of us! There are many creatures that live under the sea that represent many of our holiday traditions. Photo Credit: Fl. Museum Of Natural  History, George Burgess Small cookie cutter... Read More

Your Christmas Tree Could Benefit Winter Wildlife

Americans purchased approximately 30 million live Christmas trees last year. If you plan to have a live tree this winter, and you’re wondering what you could do with your tree once it has finished its role as holiday... Read More

The Christmas “Sea Star”

One of the more popular traditions this time of year is placing the star on top of the Christmas Tree. The star represents the Christmas Star which led the wise men to the manager.  The stars that have... Read More

Sustainable Gift-Giving

I don’t know about you, but my kids have a lot of “stuff.” Legos on my son’s floor, stuffed animals surrounding my daughter’s room—it’s a lot to keep up with. Granted, they have never thrown away a Lego... Read More

Consider a Native Evergreen This Christmas

Throughout history the evergreen tree has been a symbol of life. “Not only green when summer’s here, but also when it’s cold and dreary” as the Christmas carol “O Tannenbaum” says.  While supporting the cut Christmas tree industry... Read More

Thanksgiving and the Sea…

I was trying to think of a topic that could connect Thanksgiving and our marine environment. Like many others, when I think of Thanksgiving images of Pilgrims and native Americans come to mind.  There is the turkey –... Read More

Don’t Rush Wildlife Plot Planting – Wait for the Rain

It should be too late in the year for an article about cool season food plots; they should already be up and growing, at the very least planted. It’s November, archery season has begun, the fall food plot... Read More

Sea Turtle Nesting Season Has Officially Ended… and what a season it was

October 31st not only reminds all that the ghost and goblins are out and about, but that the sea turtle nesting season is complete for another year. These federally protected animals typically begin nesting in late April and... Read More

Bats – Helpful, Not Harmful

If you think you’d prefer a world without bats, we present to you three reasons to reconsider. Most negative stereotypes about bats are untrue. The reality is that bats benefit us in numerous ways. Here are a few... Read More

The Once Mightier Ochlockonee, Dismembered by Sea Level Rise

What do the Ochlockonee and Aucilla rivers have in common? Not much, it would seem, beyond the fact that both have headwaters in Georgia and flow through Florida to the Gulf of Mexico. These two rivers do share... Read More

Barred Owls- and other features of the “pretty woods”

I grew up in the Georgia Piedmont outside Athens, a land of bright red sticky clay, rocks and cold weather. In addition to the ubiquitous Georgia pines, hardwoods including white oaks, hickory and beech grow there. I had... Read More

The Inaugural 2016 FWC Lionfish Challenge has come to an End… So What Now?

Most coastal residents along the panhandle are aware of the invasive lionfish and the potential impacts they could have on local fisheries and ecosystems. Since they were first detected in this area in 2010, there have been tournaments,... Read More

Battling Bat Myths

As we enter Halloween season, one of the most popular images of this spooky time of year is that of a bat. The creepy tales of vampire bats and Dracula are enduring and certainly exciting. Unfortunately, many negative... Read More

Seafood… What’s in Peak Season for October?

It’s October and it feels great outside. Time to fire up the grill and enjoy football with your favorite local seafood.  So what’s in peak season this month?   Clams – cultured Cedar Key clams are always in... Read More

I’m so confused about seafood!

I’ve spent the past 25 years studying and growing fish. When folks find out I’m a fish head, I often get a lot of questions about the safety and sustainability of many seafood products.  It seems that the... Read More

Gardening for Pollinator Conservation Workshop – October 13th, Quincy FL

A “Gardening for Pollinator Conservation” Workshop will take place Thursday, October 13, at the UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center (NFREC) in Quincy. Pollinators are important in conserving native plants, ensuring a plentiful food supply, encouraging biodiversity... Read More

Are We Losing Our Natural History Skills?

Recently I attended a conference that included a series of talks at the University of Florida’s Whitney Marine Lab. One of the talks was presented by the director of the lab, Dr. Mark Martindale, who discussed the history... Read More

Panhandle Estuaries – National Estuaries Week

Humans have been settling on, and around, coastal estuaries since they first arrived in the panhandle over 10,000 years ago. These bodies of water have provided food and recreation as long as anyone can remember.  They are a... Read More

Celebrating Choctawhatchee Bay – National Estuaries Week

September 17-24, 2016 was the nation’s 28th time to celebrate America’s coasts and estuaries during National Estuaries Week.  This week helps us to remember to appreciate the challenges these coastal ecosystems face, along with their beauty and utility.... Read More

The Autumn Journey of Red Drum

Cool mornings this week reminded everyone fall is just around the corner. This subtle change in temperature inspires many of us to behave differently. It’s actually enjoyable to be outside again. Now, it’s easier to relax and drink... Read More

Biking to a Healthier Community

If you told me earlier this summer that I would “accidentally” bike 18 miles one afternoon, I’d have laughed. I’ve always loved biking, but rarely have time for long distance rides. As part of the mobile workshops for... Read More

Let’s Go Camping!

This past week I was camping at a state park near Gainesville. Working on a variety of computer related items while sitting in my chair, I was acutely attuned to the sounds of life around me.  A small... Read More

The International Coastal Clean Up is Coming in September – how are we doing with marine debris in our area?

People have been trying to do something about marine debris, and solid waste in general, since we saw the commercial of the crying Indian in the early ‘70’s. Have we made any improvement? Yes… but there are still... Read More

An Early Study Shows the Invasion of the Asian Tiger Shrimp Could Have an Impact on Native Shrimp

The Asian Tiger Shrimp (Penaeus monodon) have been reported across the northern Gulf of Mexico for several years now but unlike Cogon grass, Chinese tallow, and Lionfish they have not really made the press.  We know they are... Read More

September is Microplastics Awareness Month

Going along with the International Coastal Clean Up, UF/IFAS Extension will be promoting September as Microplastics Awareness month. If you have not heard, microplastics are small pieces of plastic < 5mm in diameter. Some are fragments from larger... Read More

It’s Sea Turtle Hatching Time… what you can do to help them

It is August, we are just off another successful Sea Turtle Baby Shower event in the Pensacola area, and we are in peak season for sea turtle hatching. Those little guys have a tough road to follow trying... Read More

The Return of the Bay Scallop to Pensacola Bay?

MAN do folks in the Florida panhandle like scallops. I recently visited boat ramps at Steinhatchee and Keaton Beach (in the Big Bend) and the parking lots were full of trucks and boat trailers belonging to people combing... Read More

Should We Eliminate Mosquitos?

Yea… should we? Probably your next question would be – can we? The answer is… maybe   There was an interesting article in the June edition of the Smithsonian magazine.  It discussed this question.  Science is close to... Read More

Water Wars… Can We Avoid It in the Panhandle?

On a recent camping trip out west I was made aware of just how valuable water is. The American west has been battling water issues for a few years now.  Some camp showers had buttons that would provide you... Read More

What Cause the Toxic Algal Bloom in South Florida and Could It Happen Here?

Most of us have heard about the toxic algal blooms plaguing south Florida waters. If not, check out http://www.cnbc.com/2016/07/05/.  This bloom has caused several major fish kills, bad odors, and has kept tourist away from the area.  What... Read More

Explore the Panhandle in a Kayak!

Many consider Northwest Florida as the “Canoe Capitol” of the state. We have numerous rivers, creeks, and springs that are great paddling spots.  The scenery is great, wildlife is common, and most are easily accessed.   To introduce... Read More

Snorkeling and Kayaking in St. Joe Bay

Who does not like St. Joseph Bay! What a place… One of the more pristine estuaries in Florida, St. Joe is famous for its snorkeling, fishing, kayaking, and scalloping.   15 miles long and 6 miles across (at... Read More

Transient Birds and Beach House Refuge

Birds, migration, and climate change. Mix them all together and intuitively, we can imagine an ecological train wreck in the making. Many migratory bird species have seen their numbers plummet over the past half-century – due not to... Read More

Oil Spill Science Seminar held in Okaloosa County

The Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill occurred about 50 miles offshore of Louisiana in April 2010. Approximately 172 million gallons of oil entered the Gulf of Mexico. Five years after the incident, locals and tourists still have questions.... Read More

Southern Copperhead in Florida

  There are approximately 44 species of snakes found in Florida.  The Southern Copperhead is one of the six venomous snakes that one might encounter while outdoors in the panhandle of Florida.    A uniquely beautiful and secretive snake,... Read More

Bacteria at the Beach

The threat of bacteria in coastal waters can be scary and a challenge to understand. Here is information that helps clarify the threat to beach visitors and recreational users of marine waters. This is a good opportunity to... Read More

Shark Week is over… so what do we know about shark attack?

Yep, each year cable TV broadcast their classic summer series SHARK WEEK. Actually there are several shark series running now.  It all began with Jaws in the early ‘70’s and ever since Americans have been enthralled with programs... Read More

Scallop Season Postponed – Fishing Fun Available Now

If you had plans to go scalloping in St. Joseph Bay over the long holiday weekend I’m afraid you are going to be disappointed. FWC has postponed the opening day of scallop harvesting season in St. Joseph Bay... Read More

Free “Brace for the Storm” Workshops Help Homeowners Prepare for Disasters

Here in the latter half of June, temperatures have heated up and summer thunderstorms have swept through on a regular basis. As we are reminded often,  hurricane season has begun. While we haven’t had a major storm in... Read More

Nature Tourism in the Panhandle – the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) – 30A in Walton County

Photos: Molly O’Connor 30A in south Walton County is a special place. Undiscovered for years, then developed… but developed more sustainably than most coastal panhandle communities – this area has now become a go-to destination for many in... Read More

They Call it “Sea Lice”

I have played in the waters of the northern Gulf of Mexico all of my life… but I have never heard of this – “sea lice.” It has been in the news recently and I have had a... Read More

Sea Grant Monitors Occurrence of Goliath Groupers in the Panhandle

For several years now Dr. Angela Collins, with Florida Sea Grant, has been conducting research on the status of the Goliath Grouper.  This extremely large member of the Family Serranidae has been of concern to fishermen, divers, and... Read More

Florida’s Aquatic Carnivorous Plants – Yes, Aquatic!

I don’t know about you, but living in “La Florida” – “the land of flowers” (the Spanish translation of Florida – named in 1513 by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León) makes it difficult to have a short... Read More

Native Plants and Wildlife

According to the Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants, there are more than 4,200 plant species naturally occurring in the state.  Nearly 3,000 are considered native.  The Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS) defines native plants as “those species occurring... Read More

Control Burning Newly Planted Longleaf Pines and Saplings

Controlling competing vegetation and brown spot disease are two main reasons we prescribe burn young longleaf plantations: Longleaf pine seedlings do not like competing vegetation and will stay in the grass stage for years if vegetation is not... Read More

Nature Tourism in the Panhandle – the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) – Point Washington Walton County

ALL PHOTOS:   MOLLY O’CONNOR Continuing our “ecotour” of the Florida Panhandle along the ICW, this month’s stop is in Walton County. Arguably one of the fastest growing counties in the state, South Walton has become a favorite with... Read More

Tupelo Honey – Rich in Local History and Medicinal Value

The Annual Tupelo Honey Festival will be held on Saturday, May 21st from 9 AM – 4 PM at Lake Alice Park in Wewahitchka. It’s an exciting event, and your chance to take part in this local delicacy.... Read More

Hurricane Season Is Upon Us Again… Time to Prepare

The beginning of hurricane season—June 1—is very nearly upon us. It’s been more than ten years since northwest Florida was on the receiving end of a destructive hurricane. However, we’ve been no strangers to devastating floods, tornadoes, and... Read More

Sea Turtles in the Florida Panhandle

  Florida has the highest number of sea turtles of any state in the continental US. Three species are common here including loggerhead, green and leatherback turtles. The Federal Endangered Species Act lists all of sea turtles in... Read More

Helping Turtles Cross Our Highways… Safely

When doing programs about snakes I find plenty of people who hate them… but I have never found anyone who hated turtles. I mean what is there to hate?  They are slower, none of them are venomous, they... Read More

Oil Spill Science: Five years later, what have we learned?

The Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill occurred about 50 miles offshore of Louisiana in April 2010. Approximately 172 million gallons of oil entered the Gulf of Mexico. Five years after the incident, locals and tourists still have questions.... Read More

Nature Tourism in the Panhandle – Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) – Okaloosa County

ALL PHOTOS: MOLLY O’CONNOR   As many of you already know each month we have posted articles about nature tourism locations along the Intracoastal Waterway in the Florida Panhandle. This month we visit coastal Okaloosa County. For years’... Read More

Searching for Diamondback Terrapins in Alabama

Many folks are putting together a “bucket list” of things they would like to do or see before they can no longer do them. For many interested in natural resources there are certain national parks and scenic places they would... Read More

Remember Safety when at the Beach!!

The sugary white sands along the Panhandle, attract millions of visitors to our area throughout the year. It is important for locals and visitors to understand and consider the following tips for safety at the beach. The danger... Read More

Water Conservation in the Landscape

  Early spring is a great time of year to reevaluate your lawn and landscape water needs. University of Florida studies have shown that in homes utilizing automatic sprinkler systems, 50% of total home water consumption in the... Read More

Discover the Beauty and Role of Native Aquatic Plants – in Your Own Pond

This is the time of year when gardens burst forth with lush green growth and colorful flowers.  With a little planning and management, your backyard pond can also put on the same show each year and fight unwanted... Read More

Celebrate Gopher Tortoise Day – April 10

The state of Florida has designated Sunday April 10 as “Gopher Tortoise Day”.  The objective is to bring awareness to this declining species and, hopefully, an interest in protecting it.   During his travels across the southeast in... Read More

Rescuing Bald Eagle Chicks – a community effort

ARTICLE BY DOROTHY KAUFMANN – Wildlife Sanctuary of Northwest Florida   Orphaned bald eagles are being fostered by two non-releasable adult eagles at the Wildlife Sanctuary of Northwest Florida.   The amazing story of these eagles began on... Read More

Nature Tourism in the Panhandle – Intracoastal Waterway – Navarre

All Photos:  Molly O’Connor   In this monthly series of highlighting outdoor adventures in the Florida Panhandle, we are visiting locations along the Intracoastal Waterway; from the Alabama State line to the Aucilla River.  In January we wrote... Read More

Beekeeping in the Panhandle Workshop & Trade Show April 1 & 2

The Beekeeping in the Panhandle Working Group is pleased to offer the 5th Annual Beekeepers Field Day And Trade Show 2016 Beekeeping is one of the fastest growing hobby and commercial endeavors in Florida.  There is much to learn... Read More

Do Your Part to Stop the Spread

With all the news about the Zika virus spread in Florida, now is the time to start thinking about mosquito protection. As the weather warms, they will be hatching.  Check out where the water is collecting in your... Read More

Life’s a Beach! Practice Beach Safety and Etiquette

It is that time of year again. Spring Break brings locals and visitors back to the beach for fun in the sun. It is important to remind folks that part of having fun is playing it safe. At... Read More

An Ancient Mariner… the horseshoe crab

Talk about weird and cool at the same time! The horseshoe crab is one of the oldest living species we have in the Gulf of Mexico.  Fossils of this animal date back to almost 500 million years… this is... Read More

Snorkeling… 5 Ways to Safely Enjoy Our Nearshore Snorkel Reefs

It’s that time of year… the air is warming and spring break has begun. Crowds of locals and visitors have begun to descend on area beaches to enjoy the panhandle sunshine and waterways, and safety is always a... Read More

NISAW 2016 – Working together to remove Giant Salvinia (Salvinia molesta) from Northwest Florida

    Matthew Phillips and Scott Jackson – UF/IFAS Extension and Research works with many partners supporting invasive species management actions and strategies across Florida. One key partner is the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conserva­tion Commission (FWC), Invasive... Read More

NISAW 2016 – Air Potato Leaf Beetle, a Biological Control for Air Potato

Air potato (Dioscores bulbifera) is a perennial, herbaceous self-twining vine that can grow over 60 feet in length, enabling it to climb over and smother many native plants. The Florida Exotic Plant Pest Council (FLEPPC) lists air potato... Read More

NISAW 2016 – Tropical Soda Apple

Florida ranchers know Tropical Soda Apple (TSA) as the “Plant from Hell”. It was first noticed in south Florida, but its seeds survive in the digestive tract of animals and it spread north through the movement of hay... Read More

NISAW 2016 – Tiger Prawn (Penaeus monodon) “Lions in the Gulf and Tigers in the Bay”

  Giant Tiger Prawn (Penaeus monodon): This catchy phrase coined by Robert Turpin (Escambia County Marine Resources Division) describes a recent invader to our marine waters in the past decade. Many coastal residents are aware of the invasive lionfish... Read More

NISAW 2016 – Climbing Ferns

  Japanese Climbing Fern (Lygodium japonicum) and Old World Climbing Fern (Lygodium microphyllum) are presently the only non-native invasive ferns in Florida. Both ferns reproduce and spread readily by wind-blown spores. Animals, equipment, and even people that move through an... Read More

NISAW 2016 – Controlling Weeds in Your Pond: Water Hyacinth

Libbie Johnson UF IFAS Escambia County Extension Northwest Florida can be a pond owner’s paradise. There is usually enough rainfall to keep ponds filled, catfish, bass, and brim are well adapted to the environmental conditions, and there is... Read More

NISAW 2016 – Beach Vitex in the Florida Panhandle

In 2013 we began writing about a potential invasive plant in the Florida panhandle called Beach Vitex (Vitex rotundifolia). The first record we knew of was reported from Pensacola Beach and was posted on EDDmaps.org. According to this... Read More

NISAW 2016 – Chinese Tallow Tree

Benjamin Franklin has been blamed for introducing the invasive Chinese Tallow tree to the Southeast when he mailed seeds to a planter after one of his trips to London in the late 1700’s. However, recent DNA work has... Read More

NISAW 2016 – Coral Ardisia, A Pretty Problem

Coral Ardisia (Ardisia crenata) Coral ardisia is also known as coral berry, spice berry, and scratchthroat. It was introduced into Florida in the early 1900’s for ornamental purposes.   In the ensuing years it has since escaped cultivation... Read More

NISAW 2016 – An Update on the Lionfish Situation in the Panhandle

Lionfish (Pterois volitans):   An Update on the Lionfish Situation in the Panhandle In the past couple of years, we have posted articles about the lionfish during NISAW week.  A question we hear more now is – “how... Read More

National Invasive Species Awareness Week 2016

Invasive species are non-native or exotic species that do not naturally occur in an area, cause economic or environmental harm, or negatively impact human health. These invasive species have become the number one threat to biodiversity on protected... Read More

From Fear to Fascination: White Sharks in the Panhandle

From Fear to Fascination: White Sharks in the Florida Panhandle UF/IFAS Extension – Florida Sea Grant  By Rick O’Connor (Escambia County) and L. Scott Jackson (Bay County) Recently, I was walking on our local Gulf fishing pier checking... Read More

Nature Tourism in the Panhandle – Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) – Pensacola Beach

  All Photos by Molly O’Connor We began our series on Nature Tourism along the ICW at the Alabama state line on Perdido Key and discussed the ICW itself.  This month we will continue in Escambia County with... Read More

2016 Beekeeping Program

Facebook0Twitter0Google plus0

Enjoying Local Seafood; What’s in Peak Season for February?

There has been an increase interest, from both visitors and residents, in purchasing local seafood.  Here we are going to define local seafood as anything caught or grown within 200 miles of your location.  For Pensacola that includes... Read More

Florida Master Naturalist projects impact local communities

The Florida Master Naturalist Program is a 40-hour experiential learning course offered by UF IFAS Extension. While we spend time in class with presentations, by far everyone’s favorite aspects of the course are field trips and “project day.”... Read More

Panhandle Outdoors LIVE – Watershed School – Week’s Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

Mobile Bay?… part of the Florida panhandle?… Really?… Well… yes… during the colonial period “West Florida” extended west to the Biloxi area and besides, all western panhandlers know we are really “lower Alabama”; we hear it a million... Read More

Florida’s First Capital and First High Rise? – Jefferson County’s Letchworth-Love Mounds Archeological State Park

It’s a calm clear weekday in January. There’s a single buzzard soaring above, two squirrels scurrying in the trees and a pileated woodpecker calling in the distance. It’s hard to imagine this site was the capital of civilization... Read More

Arbor Day in Florida

The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is for Arbor Day.  Florida recognizes the event on the third Friday in January, but planting any time before spring will establish a... Read More

Nature Tourism – The Intracoastal Waterway – Perdido Key

All photos: Molly O’Connor   More and more visitors to the Gulf coast are seeking nature encounters when on vacation. Of course there are still the amusement park fans but there is an increasing number interested in visiting... Read More

“Panhandle Outdoors LIVE!” schedule for 2016 announced

The Florida Legislature has just convened for the 2016 session, and news from the capitol is already announcing a sweeping water bill on the fast-track to passage. Supporters are quoted as saying it would provide increased protection for... Read More

2016 Gulf Coast Agritourism and Ecotourism Business Development Conference

In 2014, five Extension agents involved with www.naturallyescarosa.com launched the first Gulf Coast Agritourism & Ecotourism Business Development Conference. Over sixty business owners and members of the hospitality industry met to discuss marketing, sustainable tourism, and how to... Read More

Panhandle Florida Master Naturalist graduates opt to use living shorelines to enhance habitat and protect their coastal properties.

The mission of the Florida Master Naturalist program (FMNP) is to promote awareness, understanding and respect of Florida’s natural environment. FMNP graduates, Paul Bennett and Charlie Lurton have both worked diligently through the permitting process to place living shorelines... Read More

What is the El Niño?

In our last article about the red tides we discussed how the strange weather of 2015 caused some changes in the natural world around Pensacola Beach – mainly, it got warmer. Though climate change is happening, and we... Read More

Deer Processing Safety

When hunting, food safety begins in the field. The goal is to have safe meat for you and your family to eat.  Here are a few ways to keep your food safe: Shot placement – that’s right. Food... Read More

Twelve Days of a Nature Christmas

Tis the season… the days are shorter, the lines at the stores are longer, and everyone is busy getting ready. This newsletter is about natural resources and nature – so I was thinking about how we could all... Read More

When Will the Red Tide End?

This is a question I have been asked several times in the last week. As most of you know the red tide that has been occurring off the panhandle the last few months is still around. Dead fish... Read More

Owls – Florida’s Remarkable Nocturnal Birds of Prey

Some of my favorite creatures are owls, and as you can see by the quotes below, owls have captivated humans across the ages. And thorns shall come up in her palaces, nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof:... Read More

Box Jellies in the Gulf of Mexico?

Yep, but do not get to alarmed just yet… it is not the same species as the famous one from Australia. That said… who is this new invader to our waters and is it of concern? According to... Read More

It’s Thanksgiving… That Means Time for “Turkeyfish”

Everyone knows there are “sea horses”, “sea cows”, “catfish”, and “dogfish” but a ”turkeyfish”? Is there such a thing as a “turkey fish”? Well yes there is!… its scientific name is Pterois volitans but most know it as... Read More

Springs of the Western Panhandle

The Panhandle Outdoors LIVE team, with Extension Agents from eight counties, hosted an outdoor field day on August 26, 2015. Twenty-three participants from over eight counties in Florida attended the event and traveled to three local springs: Vortex,... Read More

2015 Peanut Butter Challenge

Next time you are the grocery store, consider purchasing an extra jar or two of peanut butter and donating it to your local Extension office as part of the annual Peanut Butter Challenge.  The Challenge is a food collection... Read More

Panhandle Outdoors LIVE! Hikes the Aucilla Sinks Trail

Hernando de Soto and his party crossed the Aucilla River sometime in October of 1539 and celebrated Christmas in what is now Tallahassee. Many things in Florida have changed since de Soto passed this way, but when the... Read More

It’s Happening … Red Tide

 Many coastal Panhandlers woke up this week to the sight and smell of dead fish. Thousands of them washed ashore from Panama City to Pensacola. This mass die off included a variety of species including whiting, sheepshead, hake,... Read More

National Seafood Month – the future of seafood

So what now? What lies ahead for the seafood industry in the Florida Panhandle?   Well I will start by saying I do not have a crystal ball… so I truly do not know, but most people plan... Read More

National Seafood Month – Blue Crabs

Well… we have talked about the “big two”… snapper and shrimp, but there are other popular fin and shellfish harvested from the Gulf of Mexico.  This week we look at my personal favorite… blue crab.   Probably like... Read More

National Seafood Month… Red Snapper

If shrimp are king of the shellfish industry, then red snapper are the king of the finfish world. It is arguably the most economically and ecologically important reef fish in the Gulf of Mexico. This fishery began in... Read More

Endless October Options in Northwest Florida!

October is a glorious time of year in northwest Florida. Temperatures are cooler, skies seem bluer, and the summer crowds have left the still-warm waters of the Gulf mostly to us locals. It is also the perfect time... Read More

National Seafood Month – shrimp

Shrimp… nothing says seafood along the Gulf coast like shrimp. It has been a staple part of our diet for decades; boiled, fried, steamed, stuffed, shish-kabobbed, As Forrest Gump said there are a million ways to cook shrimp... Read More

National Seafood Month – the state of seafood

While directing the Marine Science Academy for the Escambia County School District I had students conduct small, informal, surveys targeting the popularity of seafood with students, parents, and the community. The purpose of these surveys was to kick... Read More

Those Terrific Terrapins

They are marvelous creatures and there are very few panhandle residents who know what they are. My wife and I were introduced to Diamondback Terrapins by George Heinrich in 2005. George was the president of a nonprofit, Florida... Read More

Exotic Pet Amnesty Day set for Oct. 3 in Fort Walton Beach

Do you have any exotic pets you can no longer care for? Would you like the opportunity to surrender those pets without any penalties or fines? Then join the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Gulfarium... Read More

National Estuaries Week! – What We Can Do

In the last edition in this series we discussed some of the issues and problems our estuaries are facing. For the final edition for National Estuaries Week we want to leave you with some ideas on you can... Read More

National Estuaries Week! – Problems in Our Bays

I don’t want this to sound like a “Debbie Downer”… but there are problems with our estuaries and panhandle residents should be aware of them. There are things you can do to correct them – which we will... Read More

National Estuaries Week! – Sea Level Rise and Climate Change

  As we come towards the end of National Estuaries Week we will now look at some issues our estuaries are facing. Sea level rise is one that generates a variety of responses from the public. For some... Read More

National Estuaries Week! – Our Ports

Many may not know that one of the reasons the Spanish selected Pensacola as the site of for their first settlement in the Gulf of Mexico was the deep water port. As mentioned in the first issue in... Read More

Panhandle Outdoors LIVE – Aucilla River Sinks Hike

A portion of the Aucilla River flows through a landscape of dramatic and unusual geologic formations. Join us for this tour to see an amazing sequence of sinks and river rises, created as the river alternately disappears into... Read More

National Estuaries Week! – Ecotourism

A couple of years a few agencies in south Alabama put together something they called the Alabama Birding Trail. It was a relatively simple idea really – they developed a brochure that marked different locations where visitors could... Read More

National Estuaries Week! – Seafood

 Yea, seafood… who doesn’t like seafood… actually, based on a small scale survey I conducted with marine science students over the last 28 years I have found a slight increase in the number of those who do not.... Read More

National Estuaries Week! – What is an Estuary?

Welcome to National Estuaries Week! Each year in the fall NOAA and other agencies try to educate residents about estuaries. The vast majority of humans on our planet live on, or near, an estuary – many not realizing... Read More

Record Year for NOAA Shark Survey in North Carolina

Most of us remember the string of shark attacks that occurred this past summer in North Carolina; as a matter of fact, according to the International Shark Attack File, it was a record year for that region. Since... Read More

Discovering the Panhandle… Barrier Islands… September

I am not going to lie… I skipped August… It was hot… September however was nice. The day I made the hike the skies were clear and the temperature was 75°F! wonderfully… truly wonderful. If you are like... Read More

The World of Worms – the Annelids… Part 3 of 3

In the final segment of this 3 part series on worms we will discuss the largest, most commonly encountered members of the worm world… the Annelids. Annelids differ from the other two groups of worms we have discussed... Read More

The World of Worms… Part 2 of 3

In the first article of this series we discussed the how unpleasant the subject of worms were but how beneficial many species are to our environment. We highlighted the flatworms and this week we will look at the... Read More

Now’s the Time to Start Preparing for Hunting Season

The temperature might still be in the 90s but the kids are back in school and football season is starting soon; that means fall is coming and with it, the beginning of hunting season. Here in northwest Florida... Read More

The World of Worms… Part 1 of 3

I am afraid worms are not the most pleasant topic to write about but few people know much about them. I was once told when I was a student that if you wanted to become known as a... Read More

The World of Worms… Part 1 of 3

I am afraid worms are not the most pleasant topic to write about but few people know much about them. I was once told when I was a student that if you wanted to become known as a... Read More

Bringing the Indigo Back to the Panhandle

With great interest I read this week that the Orianne Center for Indigo Conservation in central Florida has begun a project to reintroduce the federally listed Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon corais cooper) to the Florida Panhandle; where there... Read More

E-15 Gasoline is Here… marine motors and lawn care providers should be aware

Okay… Let’s start at the beginning. We began drilling oil over 100 years ago. The crude was refined into kerosene, gasoline, plastics, and other products that have completely changed our lives. A huge international industry developed from the... Read More

Do Constricting Snakes Really Kill Their Prey by Suffocation?

Most people, including myself, have been taught this. Snakes are in an unusual situation of trying to kill prey with no hands or claws. A few can inject venom, others either swallow it whole (such as an egg)... Read More

The Mystery on Seahorse Key

First let me explain that Seahorse Key is not in the Florida Panhandle but the story is interesting and a similar phenomena could occur here. Seahorse Key is an isolated island 3.6 miles southwest of Cedar Key in... Read More

The Giant Banana Spiders – part of our panhandle summer

TELL ME NO!  Please tell me these huge spiders are not a part of our summer. People are afraid snakes… that’s a given – but there are just as many afraid of spiders.  Honestly, after years of leading... Read More

Ghost Crabs… raiders of the night

  For locals along the coast ghost crabs are as common as mockingbirds and mourning doves. Before Ivan, when the dunes were larger and closer to the road, viewing the white crabs scouring across the road at night... Read More

The Sweet Sound of Summer – Cicadas

I was sitting on my back porch late in the afternoon this past week enjoying the breeze and the sunset when the familiar sound of the bugs some call “locust” began their buzzing songs. Not all would agree... Read More

Hermit Crabs Add to Summer Fun At North Florida Beaches

Summertime in north Florida is good. Among the premium experiences are leisurely hours at the beach. For many this is a period of relaxation and the opportunity to casually examine what the surf has thrown on the beach.... Read More

The Osprey: Apex Predator and Master Angler

In north Florida water sports are a supreme pastime in summer. Fishing is among the most popular activity for all ages in this recreational realm. Human anglers are not the only competitors seeking to land a trophy specimen.... Read More

Florida’s Rangeland Agriculture and the Environment: A Natural Partnership

Most of us living in panhandle Florida recognize that our farmers and ranchers are committed to sustainable production of food, fiber, and fuel for generations to come, but how will farmers continue to be productive while sharing natural... Read More

Things are Getting Hot on the Island… Discovering the Florida Panhandle – Barrier Islands – July

The air temperatures are in the high ‘90’s and the heat indices are reaching over 100°F; heck the inland water temperatures are in the high ‘80’s – it’s just hot out there! But our barrier island wildlife friends... Read More

Looks like a Typical Year for the Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone

What is the Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone you ask? Well…it’s a layer of hypoxic water (low in dissolved oxygen) on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. It was first detected in the 1970’s but reached its... Read More

Dodder: Vampire Plant or Nature’s Own Genetic Modification Organism?

Vampires of all types and genetic modifications are hot topics these days, and a common, but uncommon looking and acting Florida weed may have combined the two subjects. Dodder, a native invasive, parasitic plant, reproduces by seed but... Read More

What You Need to Know About Vibrio Bacteria in Gulf Waters

After the recent report of a fatality due to the Vibrio bacteria near Tampa many locals have become concerned about their safety when entering the Gulf of Mexico this time of year. So what are the risks and... Read More

What Caused the Fish Kill Along the Florida Panhandle This Week?

  This past week hundreds of dead fish washed ashore between Escambia and Okaloosa counties. Most were of one species but there were others who died and it appeared they had been in the water for quite a while.... Read More

Shark Safety Tips

Shark Safety Tips UF/IFAS Extension – Florida Sea Grant By L. Scott Jackson (Bay County) and Rick O’Connor (Escambia County) Recently, two teens were victims of unusual shark attacks in North Carolina. The two attacks occurred within minutes... Read More

It is One Goliath of a Fish… the Goliath Grouper

For many who are seafood lovers there is nothing like a good grouper sandwich; makes me hungry just to write that. Groupers are members of the one of the largest families of fish in the Gulf of Mexico.... Read More

April Shows DO Bring May Flowers – Discovering the Panhandle – Barrier Islands

  This month there were many more plants flowering… it is true that April showers do bring May flowers. May not only brings more flowers but more tourists. Everyone is out enjoying the weather, including some wildlife. I... Read More

3 Ways You Can Help Keep Our Bays Healthy

Following a previous article on the number of ways you can help sea turtles, this week we will look at ways that local residents can help keep our waterways clean. Poor water quality is a concern all over... Read More

5 Things You Can Do to Help Sea Turtles During Nesting Season

It is May and this is the official beginning of the sea turtle nesting season. These ancient creatures have followed this nesting cycle for centuries traveling the open ocean, feeding and resting on reefs, then returning to shore... Read More

Identify Cogongrass Now – Look for the Seedheads

We are well into spring and a wide variety of plants are showing off their colorful blooms. As lovely as most of the blooms are, some springtime colors are an unwelcome sight. Such is the case with the... Read More

Insectary Meadows Provide Food for Pollinators and Homes for Good Bugs

Bees have been disappearing at an alarming rate and continue to vanish without a trace. Why should anyone care? Well, they matter a lot more than most people think. Bees are the overwhelmingly dominant pollinator for most food... Read More

Does your pond need fertilization?

These days many ponds are just backyard recreational ponds.  Management goals vary from owner to another.  Some pond owners want very little productivity (very little fish removed).  They want little vegetation with just a few fish.  This pond... Read More

April Showers Bring May… Snakes

This rhyme has been around for decades suggesting that rain increases during the month of April.  In recent years the amount we have received has caused local flooding, and most in Escambia County will remember receiving 26” of... Read More

Springtime is “Just Right” for Using Aquatic Herbicides

Similar to Goldilocks’ porridge, water temperature doesn’t need to be too hot or too cold, it needs to be just right for using aquatic herbicides (70o – 80o F). Here in Florida, these optimum water temperatures occur in... Read More

“And then it began to rain”… the April edition of Discovering the Panhandle

As we left the winter months and headed into spring I was expecting a lot of new blooms, new animal tracks, and more live encounters with wildlife… and then the rain began.  I do not know if the... Read More

Alligators Become More Active in the Spring

The American Alligator is an icon in the state of Florida. Viewed on the program “Swamp People” and as the mascot of the University of Florida, most visitors to our state view this animal more on television than in the... Read More

“Wanted” Sighting of Horseshoe Crabs!

These curious ancient animals have been roaming the waters of the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico for over 450 million years. Though they appear dangerous they are quite harmless and are actually more closely related to spiders and... Read More

What can you do about a colony of bats in a building?

Bats typically sleep during the day in natural structures such as trees and caves. In areas with few natural roost structures, bats may instead choose to spend their days in buildings.   Bats are beneficial because each bat consumes... Read More

Non-Native Freshwater Jellyfish in Florida?

Yes, you read the title correctly, it says freshwater jellyfish in Florida! The first time I encountered these unusual aquatic creatures was while swimming in a small lake in southern Indiana. It turns out these jellyfish, while not... Read More

Outdoor Adventure is Nearby!

This time of year, many families are looking for ways to entertain their kids during spring break. For those not planning to travel far, our area is full of fun, and often inexpensive, outdoor adventures. As part of... Read More

Spring is Here! Discovering the Panhandle – Barrier Islands – March

What many have been waiting for… spring is here!  HAPPY EQUINOX EVERYONE! Today’s photoperiod will be 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness – equinox.  Many cultures around the world celebrate this and many ancient cultures... Read More

The Preying Mantis: Friend to Gardeners, but Nightmare to Insects

The last two years have been kind to the insect population in north Florida, and 2015 appears to be continuing the trend. The weather has provided enough rain for those bugs which depend on the generous supply of... Read More

Resurrection Ferns: Hardy Native Air Plants

One of the wonderful features of spring is the return of green to the branches of many trees in north Florida. Cypress, poplar, cherry and many others have been defoliated by the cool season which is now retreating.... Read More

Six Simple Ideas for Dealing with Your Unwanted Exotic Pet

Now that we have completed National Invasive Species Awareness Week many readers have learned what NOT to do with their unwanted exotic pets… but what DO you do with them? Here are six simple suggestions for you to... Read More

It’s not just the honeybees!

Honey bees are quite the buzz these days. Reports of population declines and the importance of their role in pollination have caught the country’s attention.  The Northwest District IFAS Beekeepers’ classes have grown by leaps and bounds over... Read More

Invasive Species of the Day: Cogongrass and Tawny Crazy Ant

Cogongrass (Imperata Cylindrica): Cogongrass is one of the 10 worst weeds in the world.  This grass is an aggressive grower and forms colonies causing loss of productive forest areas, severe degradation of habitat, and economic issues.  Since its... Read More

Invasive Species of the Day: Cuban Tree Frog and Hydrilla

Cuban Treefrog (Osteopilus septentrionalis): The Cuban Treefrog: was introduced into Florida as a stowaway on vehicles and plants in the 1920’s. As of 2013, breeding populations have been recorded as far north as Georgia. Cuban Treefrogs have larger... Read More

Invasive Species of the Day: Tiger Prawn and Climbing Ferns

Giant Tiger Prawn (Penaeus monodon): Giant Tiger Prawn: This large shrimp, also known as the Asian Tiger Shrimp and the Black Tiger Shrimp, can reach lengths between 8-12 inches.  It resembles are native edible penaeid shrimp but differs in... Read More

Invasive Species of the Day (February 25): Coral Ardisia and Wild Hogs

Coral Ardisia (Ardisia crenata):   Coral ardisia is also known as coral berry, spice berry, and scratchthroat. It was introduced into Florida in the early 1900’s for ornamental purposes. In the ensuing years, it has since it escaped cultivation... Read More

Invasive Species of the Day (February 24): Lionfish and Air Potato

Lionfish (Pterois volitans):   Red Lionfish are a predatory reef fish that are non-native invasive species and have spread throughout Florida Waters.  They are members of the family Scorpaenidae whose members are venomous and the lionfish is no exception. ... Read More

Invasive Species of the Day (February 23): Kudzu Bugs and Beach Vitex

Kudzu Bug (Megacopta cribraria): Florida is extending a warm welcome to a new pest!  In 2012, the Kudzu bug made its first appearance in our state.  And they are settling in to stay.  The kudzu bug was first... Read More

National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW) – February 22-28, 2015

Many plants and animals have been introduced to new regions for centuries, as people have discovered new lands.  These transient species are known as non-natives, and can become invasive. Invasive species occur throughout the world and may blend... Read More

1st Annual Statewide Nonnative Fish Catch, Click, and Submit Contest

The Everglades Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (ECISMA) is organizing a nonnative freshwater fishing tournament for Invasive Species Week.   Begins:             6:00 AM Saturday February 21, 2015 Ends:               12:00 AM Sunday March 1, 2015   OBJECTIVES FOR TOURNAMENT... Read More

Discovering Florida’s Panhandle – Barrier Islands – February 2015

Making the Big Sabine hike on Santa Rosa Island in February was COLD! A front had pasted over the day before and temp was in the 30’s with a north wind. But the sky was a beautiful blue... Read More

Check Those Passalong Plants

It’s Growing So Well It Must Be A Good Plant. Right? You know that plant in the corner of the yard that seems to be taking over? It’s the one that your friend “passed along” because they had... Read More

Wood ducks could use your help this time of year

Wood ducks are one of the most colorful ducks in North America. Breeding males showcase an unbelievable combination of colors including a red bill and eyes, a metallic purplish-green crested head, black cheeks with thick white stripes, a... Read More

Dirt is just dirt, or is it?

Many of us walk around daily and give no thought to what is under our feet. We do not consider soil a vital natural resource, but it is. And as with water and air, soil quality is very important... Read More

Discovering Florida’s Panhandle – Our Barrier Islands – January

Beginning this month we will be posting a series of natural resource articles high lighting Florida’s Panhandle. The photographs and hikes presented in this series are from Escambia and Santa Rosa counties but the same natural places can... Read More

Thank you from the UF/IFAS Extension Northwest District

Thank You for a Wonderful Year! As we come to the end of our 100th year of serving the citizens of Florida, the University of Florida/IFAS Extension Faculty located in the 16 county offices of the Florida Panhandle... Read More

Underperforming Food Plots? 3 Possible Reasons Why

Deer hunting season has begun in Northwest Florida. As hunters venture into the woods and sit for hours on end they have plenty – sometimes too much – time to contemplate what they could have done or should... Read More

Lions in the Gulf… Tigers in the Bay

This catchy phrase coined by Robert Turpin (Escambia County Marine Resources Division) describes the new invader to our marine waters. Many coastal residents are aware of the invasive lionfish that has invaded our local reefs but few have... Read More

Dr. Jack Payne’s Personal Comment: A land-grant president for UF

By Jack Payne The selection of Dr. W. Kent Fuchs (pronounced “Fox”) as the next president of the University of Florida should be cause for celebration for anyone who cares about Florida agriculture and natural resources. I’ll confess,... Read More

Enjoy delicious stone crab claws now through May, 2015.

The commercial and recreation stone crab season has opened! Now is the time to enjoy local stone crab claws. Whether you catch them yourself or buy from a local seafood market, the delicious meat is worth the effort... Read More

Florida’s Wildlife Conservations Policy for Predicted Coastal Habitat Loss Problems

Have you wondered how Florida’s wildlife conservation policy planners and habitat managers are responding to the new management challenge of predicted coastal habitat loss from sea level rise? And how that overlays on predicted habitat loss from a... Read More

Bamboo: Attractive Ornamental or Invasive Nightmare?

Bamboo, the tallest grass in north Florida, can be an attractive landscape specimen or an invasive nightmare. There are more than 700 species of bamboo worldwide, ranging in height from 12 inches to 100 feet or more in... Read More

The Majestic Longleaf: One of the South’s Distinguished Trees

Steeped in history, the majestic longleaf (Pinus palustris) is an economically and ecologically important tree species of the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains. Its species name “palustris” means “of the marsh,” and although it is commonly associated with... Read More

Fall Season Can Mean More Snake Encounters

In the last few weeks we have received an increase in calls about snake encounters. Most of these have dealt with small juvenile snakes folks are finding on their property, or in their homes, but we are also... Read More

Gulf Coast Agritourism and Ecotourism Business Development Conference Announced for November

The UF/IFAS Extension Escambia and Santa Rosa counties and Naturally EscaRosa would like to invite agritour and ecotour providers to the 2014 Agri/Eco-tourism Business Development Conference on November 5-6, 2014. The conference is geared for businesses wishing to... Read More

Earthworms aren’t the only beneficial composters!

I started a little vermiculture bin year before last with one cup of red wigglers from the local bait shop. I carefully sorted my garbage so there was no grease or animal protein in the bin and counted... Read More

Cool Season Wildlife Food Plots

It’s time to start planning your cool season wildlife food plots. Cool season food plots do a great job attracting deer and other wildlife to your property as well as providing a little nutrition. The first step is... Read More

What Is Up with All the Sharks?

Since the beginning of the summer, panhandle residents and visitors have been reporting numerous sharks hanging out along the sandbars near the passes. , cruising between the 2nd sandbar and the beach. One visitor was even bitten; raising... Read More

Living with Florida Snakes

Warming temperatures have awaken snakes that have been dormant during the winter months.  As a result, they are more active during abnormal times of the day and move more than they typically do while searching for food.  This also... Read More

“Digital Devices Transform Couch Potatoes into Air Potato Destroyers – Use Your Phone to Help Manage Florida Invaders”

Digital devices have proliferated like kudzu in July, and new user applications for these devices are as common as armadillos. Untold hours and dollars are being spent by couch potatoes to defend artificial worlds from dragons, zombies and... Read More

Our Recovering Florida Black Bear Population

Florida Black Bear are the largest land mammals in the state of Florida. At birth they are smaller than a soda can but they quickly grow up to 250-400 pounds for males and 125-250 pounds for females. Even though... Read More

March is an ideal time to consider wild birds

Spring is a dynamic time for wildlife. If you enjoy watching nature, now is a fantastic time to get outdoors to see some interesting activity. March is also one of the best times of year to do some... Read More

Aquatic and Natural Areas Pesticide Training and Exams

Pesticide Training and Exams being offered at the University of Florida IFAS Okaloosa County Extension Office. March 31, 2014 8am-11am     Aquatic Pesticide Training 11am             Aquatic Exam 1pm-4pm       Natural Areas Training 4pm               Natural Areas Exam Cost is $10 for... Read More

Winter Weather – Just Right for Controling Unwanted Trees

As Floridians we often struggle to find any upside to these cold, gray days we’ve been experiencing past few months. As  “unfloridian” as our winters can be they pale in comparison to those endured by the more northern... Read More

2014 UF/IFAS Basic Beekeeping in the Panhandle Short Course

The UF/IFAS Panhandle Agriculture Extension Team will once again be offering a Basic  Beekeeping School in February and March.  These classes will be offered via interactive video conferencing at Extension Offices across the Panhandle.  Details are listed below,... Read More

Florida Snow! Nature’s Reminder to Enhance Backyard Wildlife Habitat

15.00 North Florida experienced a weather delight (or distress depending on your point of view!) this week in the form of freezing rain and snow!  The words “Florida” and “snow” are two words most people would not place... Read More

Cold weather and fish kills: What you need to know!

With the ongoing cold weather across the Panhandle, fish kills are being reported in many areas. In the Panhandle, average water temperatures have dropped down to the 50s (degrees Fahrenheit) in many waterbodies. This is about ten degrees... Read More

UF/IFAS Leon County Extension is Among First Three Commercial “Zero Net Energy” Buildings in Florida!

The old adage, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” does not always apply. During a recent national webinar, research staff at the New Buildings Institute (NBI) headquartered in Vancouver, Washington profiled the University of Florida IFAS... Read More

New Year Brings New Fertilizer Regulations

Beginning New Year’s Day of 2014, a new law went into effect that state lawmakers, environmental advocates, and lawn care professionals hope will reduce Florida’s decades-long problem with stormwater runoff pollution.  The law states that all lawn care... Read More

Deer Feeders Can Hide Trouble!

  Deer feeders are common in North Florida, and “deer corn” is sold in multiple markets. Cross-roads convenience stores sell it in plain brown bags and big box stores in town sell it in camouflage  bags with three... Read More

Florida Arbor Day

The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago.  The second best time is Arbor Day 2014.  Florida recognizes the event on the third Friday in January, so the next one is January 17, 2014.  ... Read More

Prevent Tick-borne Illnesses in Florida

This fall remains mild despite a couple of recent frosty mornings. With mild temperatures comes ticks.  Ticks carry and transmit several diseases. Brown dog ticks are found mainly on dogs and can carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. American dog ticks... Read More

Living with Coyotes

Coyotes can be a nuisance to pet and livestock owners as well as vegetable farmers. They are true scavengers and will eat just about anything – sheep, calves, poultry, deer, watermelons, snakes, foxes, cats, rabbits, grass, carrion, pet... Read More

Take survey to identify Gulf research needs

  You can provide input to numerous groups around the Gulf of Mexico that are developing regional science and restoration plans or funding Gulf research through a single survey. <<<Click Here to Take the Survey This survey is... Read More

Manatees: Wakulla Springs Most Interesting Guests!

Check into the lodge at Wakulla Springs State park on a crisp cool evening and you are immediately greeted with the warmth of an open hearth fireplace and the security of stone walls radiating comfort and solace. These... Read More

2013 Lionfish Summit; update on FWC meeting in Cocoa Beach

It seems everyone in the Panhandle is talking about the invasive lionfish. This non-native member of the scorpionfish family was first seen in U.S. waters in 1989 near Ft. Lauderdale.  Over the last two decades, much has been... Read More

Beach Vitex… Is It a Growing Problem?

  It’s actually a pretty plant, this Beach Vitex (Vitex rotundifolia), and it is very good at stabilizing eroding dunes. In the 1990’s, the state of South Carolina planted this shrub to help restore dunes lost during hurricanes.... Read More

A means of survival: Mimicry

“Imitation is the sincerest of flattery,” wrote Charles Caleb Colton. Colton was a sometimes cleric, essayist, wine merchant and gambler who bounced around Europe and North America during the early nineteenth century. It is likely many of his... Read More

Wildlife Flourishes in Florida’s Summer! But Watch for Invaders Too!

15.00 Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:”Table Normal”; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:””; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:”Calibri”,”sans-serif”; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;} Each of Florida’s seasons... Read More

Forestry Tools Jefferson and Leon Outdoor Camp

Campers Measuring Trees with Division of Forestry. Facebook0Twitter0Google plus0

Swamps: Watershed or Wasteland?

Recent rains have left water standing on some panhandle Florida real estate which has been dry for several years.  Ponds, natural and dug, are brimming with water reflecting the generous outpouring from the slow and wet weather system... Read More

Sinkholes in the Florida Panhandle, Facts and Resources

During our heavy March rainfall events a tiny sinkhole appeared in my yard.  While it was only 3 feet across, it was over 5 feet deep!  After reading about the various types and causes of sinkholes, I decided... Read More

Improving Water Quality and Bringing Back the Bayous

Those who have lived in the Panhandle area for many years will remember the days when our local bayous were places people water skied, kids learned to swim, and fishermen brought home plenty of speckled trout.  But today... Read More

Panhandle Outdoors LIVE 2013!

  Are you interested in exploring and discovering more about the waterways and wildlife around you?  If so, Panhandle Outdoors LIVE may be right up your alley.  In 2012, natural resources Extension Agents took over 200 people on... Read More

Living With Snakes… 2013, Year of the Snake

The Southeast Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation has dubbed 2013 as the “Year of the Snake”.  There are many animals that strike fear in humans but little cause more than snakes.  Interestingly kids seem to like them.... Read More

E-10 FUEL Advice for Boaters

Since the introduction of 10% ethanol to gasoline (E-10 fuel) many boaters, including yours truly, have had problems with fouled fuel filters and marine engines not running at their top performance.  The ethanol added to the fuel combines... Read More

Registration Now Open for 2013 NW Florida Artificial Reef Workshop February 19 – 20, 2013 in Niceville, Florida.

An exciting new event is coming to our area. Northwest Florida’s first Artificial Reef Workshop since 2006 will be held February 19 – 20, 2013 at the Niceville Community Center. The community center is centrally located in the... Read More

Your Watershed “Address:” What is it, and Why it’s Important

No matter our distance from a lake, wetland, river, or coastline, we all live within the boundaries of a watershed.  In fact, all land on earth is part of a watershed and all habitats exist within a watershed... Read More

Expedition Florida 500 Launches in Pensacola

It is human nature to explore.  We are a curious species, yearning from birth to stimulate our senses of sight, smell, touch…from an infant’s grab at a colorful toy to an astronaut setting foot on the moon, we... Read More

“Sea”sons Greetings!

Many marine species have festive holiday names. Jingle Shells, Pinecone Fish, Red Drum, Marine Snow, and Christmas Tree Worms are just a few. Pinecone Fish get their name as result of their armored plates called scutes. The scutes... Read More

Diamonds in the Marsh

It is hard to say one turtle is more beautiful than another but this is one beautiful turtle!  The diamondback terrapin is the only brackish water turtle in the United  States. These turtles can be easily distinguished from other... Read More

Date Changed for Northwest Florida Artificial Reef Workshop in Niceville: February 19-20

Please save the date for the 2013 Northwest Florida Regional Artificial Reef Workshop sponsored by Florida Sea Grant and FWC, to be held at the Niceville Community Center in Niceville, FL on Wednesday-Thursday, February 19-20, 2013. (Change due... Read More

The Invasion of the Lionfish

The Invasion of the Lionfish   (Photo: Florida Sea Grant)   It is a song that has been played in our state time and again.  An exotic pet or plant is brought across our borders and either intentionally... Read More

Waukeenah Plantation to Host Stewardship Tour Dec 6 – Registration Open

Forest management?  Wild Life Habitat?  History? No matter what your interest, the December 6 Forest Stewardship Tour at Waukeenah Plantation in southern Jefferson County will give you an onsite vision of developing a forest on your property. Waukeenah... Read More

Historic and Modern Use of Artificial Reefs in Northwest Florida

History of Artificial Reefs and Materials Ancient mariners observed large numbers of fish inhabiting areas near sunken vessels. Our first sailors quickly realized objects placed in the sea are almost immediately colonized by marine life.   Based on... Read More

Teaching Tired Old Turkey to Swim!

Holiday dinners usually feature ham and turkey. You may start having left-over sandwich nightmares after eating turkey for the next six weeks! Many Florida families choose fresh seafood as a delicious and healthy addition to their traditional holiday... Read More

Save the Date: Artificial Reef Workshop Feb. 19 & 20th (Date Change!)

Please save the date for the 2013 Northwest Florida Regional Artificial Reef Workshop sponsored by Florida Sea Grant and FWC, to be held at the Niceville Community Center in Niceville, FL on Wednesday-Thursday, February 19-20, 2013. (Change due... Read More

NW FL Reef Workshop – Save the Date! Please help us by Completing our Short Survey

Please save the date for the 2013 Northwest Florida Regional Artificial Reef Workshop sponsored by Florida Sea Grant and FWC, to be held at the Niceville Community Center in Niceville, FL on Wednesday-Thursday, February 6-7, 2013. We invite... Read More