I’ve just finished gleaning information about leafminers from a nice, descriptive paper by Harrison G. Dyar,* describing the moths and caterpillars he found in Lake Worth, Florida in mid-winter, and it removed any doubts I had about there being plenty to see when I travel to the southeastern US in late March. The problem I face, though, is evident when you look at an aerial photo of Lake Worth: Where is the nature in Florida? Its disappearance was already underway when Dyar wrote:
The strip of land between Lake Worth and the Atlantic Ocean, in Florida, was visited by me in January and February, 1890, and again in 1900. During this interval of ten years a railroad has been built and two large hotels erected in what, at the time of my first visit, was nearly primitive vegetation.
Yes, I’m aware of the Everglades and other large chunks of federally owned land, but I’ve developed an unfortunate habit of finding things that are new to science everywhere I go, and I would rather spend my time in places where it will be legal for me to collect leafminers and gallmakers so I can try to raise them to adults. I did just submit an application for a permit to collect in Florida state parks, and I will see how that goes after a month or so of processing. Based on everything I’ve heard, the bureaucracy involved with trying to get a permit to do anything on federal land is prohibitive. The fact that I haven’t even received a response to an email I sent to someone at Everglades National Park several weeks ago is not encouraging.
So, I am looking for advice on places to go where my scientific explorations will be allowed (maybe even encouraged?). Not just in Florida, but anywhere on the way from Massachusetts to Florida, and on the way from Florida to Ohio. I would also love to hear suggestions of nice places to camp–the less infrastructure (and the less expensive) the better.
Thanks in advance for any leads! I will of course report back in a few months with photos of strange, wonderful and tiny things from the Southeast.
* Dyar, Harrison G. 1901. Notes on the winter Lepidoptera of Lake Worth, Florida. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 4:446-485.