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Be-at-Home with Nature: What’s in your backyard challenge?

Nature is Everywhere


What can you find in 4 square feet?

Yesterday was an unusually cool day here in Sarasota. Low in humidity, high in cloud cover, with thunder in the distance, I decided to take a break on my backyard deck. As I took a moment to slow down and relax, I was amazed to find how much nature had found its way onto my deck… I didn’t even need to go into the yard to find signs of nature all around!


A bioblitz is an attempt to find as many species of living things within a given area over a short period of time. Often these are community events or citizen science opportunities to record the diversity of an area. It’s a fun activity to do in your own backyard! Look high, look low, look all around and make a list or take photos of every living thing you find. It’s amazing how much there is, even in our own backyards. If you want to participate in a virtual bioblitz for Earth Day, visit the Conservation Foundation to learn how.

Animal signs

Whose tracks are these?
Photo credit: K. Clements


Animal signs are clues animals leave behind that indicate they have been in the area. Often we do not see the animal, but they may leave behind tracks, scat, signs of eating, fur or bones, or we may see their homes. If we are patient detectives, we can often determine who has been visiting our backyards or natural area by noticing these signs.


What’s in Your Backyard? Challenges

Challenge #1: Below are photographs of different things from plants and animals found on my outdoor deck. Can you guess what they are? Send your answers to by May 1st.  Answers will be posted in an upcoming blog.

Challenge #2: Can you find something unusual or interesting from nature in your backyard, on your deck/lanai, or outside your front door? Take a photo and send to by May 1st, and I will try to guess what it is! Most interesting, unusual, or difficult to guess photos will be posted in an upcoming blog!

Photo #3

Photo #2

Photo #1






Photo #4: who left me behind?

Photo #3








Photo #6: Who left me behind?

Photo #5





Photo #7: What is this?


Photo #8: Who am I?





An Equal Opportunity Institution. UF/IFAS Extension, University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension. Sarasota County prohibits discrimination in all services, programs or activities. View the complete policy at

2 Comments on “Be-at-Home with Nature: What’s in your backyard challenge?

  1. I need help getting rid of snails in my front yard plant garden and surrounding my house. They are eating and destroying my plants. I’ve tried beer; doesn’t get ahead of problem.
    Am physically killing each one I find and sprinkling salt around areas I find them. Seems to be slowing them down. I live in Central Florida.
    Do you have any better ideas?

    • Hi Diane –
      My name is Carol and I’m an Extension agent at the UF/IFAS Extension in Sarasota. I feel your frustration with the arthropods that continue to destroy your plants! Snails and slugs can do some major damage if left unchecked. Your attempt at using beer is a very good idea, but sometimes not effective if there is a large number of snails/slugs. I do applaud you for trying the least invasive method to start! There are still some great IPM strategies you can use; cultural control and mechanical control methods used in conjunction with biorational products should be effective. There are some essential oil products on the market that utilize cinnamon oil and have proven to work against the slugs and snails. You can also use low-toxicity products that contain sulfur or boric acid, but they may not give you the control needed. Other products that have proven effective, but are a bit more toxic (though still relatively safe around pets and wildlife) have iron-based active ingredients, such as iron phosphate or sodium ferric EDTA. I would recommend refraining from using products containing metaldehyde as it is very toxic to pets and wildlife.

      Below are links to two really good fact sheets produced by researchers at UF/IFAS. Both discuss information regarding slug and snail characteristics, life cycle, and control measures. I hope there may be something that will help resolve your slug/snail problems. – Terrestrial snails affecting plants in Florida – Terrestrial slugs of Florida

      Best of luck, and I hope this information has been helpful.


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