For the identification of insects and other fauna and flora of South Africa: please click on the following links:
Insects and related species: Antlions - Ants - Bees - Beetles - Bugs - Butterflies, Moths and Caterpillars - Centipedes and Millipedes - Cockroaches - Crickets - Dragonflies and Damselflies - Grasshoppers and Katydids - Mantis - Stick Insects - Ticks and Mites - Wasps - Woodlice
Plants, Trees, Flowers: (Note: Unless plants fall into a specific species such as Cacti, they have been classified by their flower colour to make them easier to find) Bonsai - Cacti, Succulents, Aloes, Euplorbia - Ferns and Cycads - Flowers - Fungi, Lichen and Moss - Grass - Trees
Animals, Birds, Reptiles etc.: Animals, Birds, Fish and Crabs - Frogs - Lizards - Scorpions - Snails and Slugs - Snakes - Spiders - Tortoise, Turtles and Terrapins - Whipscorpions
Other photography: Aeroplanes - Cars and Bikes - Travel - Sunrise - Water drops/falls - Sudwala and Sterkfontein Caves etc.

Videos: YouTube

Monday, January 31, 2011

Mantis and caterpillar

The Flower Mantis is doing well in my tank and sure is a feisty fellow. As soon as I put my finger near him, he wants to bite it off. LOL!!
One day I noticed three strange caterpillars in the tank too and I do not know where they came from.
The only thing I can think of is that the Emperor Moth I had in there some time ago laid eggs and these have hatched out.
They remind me of the old time robbers who wore a mask over their eyes. I think the fruit fly was hitching a ride.
I am keeping them and recording their progress to see what happens.
There is just one slight problem!! The mantis, although a quarter of its size, keeps on trying to eat it!!
The caterpillar is much too clever and keeps on swaying his body away from the mantis.
I am sorry but some of these pictures are not very good but it will give you a good idea of what is happening.
The mantis is very persistent and keeps on trying to get him without much luck.
Eventually the caterpillar had had enough and went into one of the corners to spin a cocoon around himself to guard against that pesky mantis.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Bush - Part 2

One of the first thing noticed were these HUGE mushrooms growing in the garden.
I have never seen something this size before!!
Then it was painting, fixing up and unpacking. The place was in such a mess. These are some before and after shots..... the bedroom. The walls were a dirty brown colour and the paint was chipped and nasty looking.
With some paint, a whole lot of washing and curtains hung up, it looked a lot different dont you think?
The same for the bathroom. I am thinking that these people living there before me must have had towels the same size as wash clothes for the rack to hang them on was so low, anything bigger than that would hang in the bath or over your face if you sat in the tub.
More scrubbing, painting, removing nails out of the walls and then in the end, it looks fresh and clean again.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Bush - Part 1

Last year was the worst I have ever had in my life and this year, although just started, is proving to be the best with so many things going my way. Now if I were Chinese, I would not say this, as they believe that when you say things are going well, the gods/spirits hear and take away your luck, but I am not superstitious and think I am extremely lucky in so many ways. Maybe one needs to reach the bottom before you can start building things up again?
With all that said and done, where I do begin with this series? Due to completely unforeseen circumstances, on the 1st of January, I found the place to live I have been searching for, for 5 long years. I am back in the bush where I belong and love to be, back to seeing grasshoppers on my beside stand, mantis in my bath and checking my slippers before I put them on to see there are no spiders or scorpions in it. Most of you will shudder at the thought of all this, but for me it is heaven. I now have to drive 1 ½ hours in the traffic to get to work or back whereas before it took me only five minutes, but the feeling of utter peace and tranquility I find when I get home, makes it all worthwhile.
On the day I moved it rained but it did not bother me. I now sit at my study window and look out on nothing but bush.
During the day and at night, I hear the lions and the zebra calling. This has to compare with the sweetest music in my ears.
The place is surrounded with mountains, not very high ones and one even has a cave which I can explore sometime and who knows what I will find in it.
There are miles and more miles I can walk around on and a river nearby which I have not been down to yet.
At night when I get home, the Blue Wildebeest or some other animal is laying in the road to the house and I stop to watch them.
Being summer, there are a lot of babies around and this youngster is less than 3 days old as it still has its umbilical cord.
To get home, sit on the porch and look around at the birds and hear the animals, all the days frantic pace and stress just melts away and I am at peace with the world…….

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

All in a days work

It has been a few days of the most unbelievable storms with lots of flooding in some places and unfortunately, a lot of lives lost. At times the sun has tried to shine and is most spectacular. These tow shots were taken on my way home one night.
What a pity the gate was in the way with this one although I still like it.
A Bush Hopper (family Euschmidtiidae) they are small and many of the species are wingless.
This moth landed on my bedside table. It has lovely markings.
A very young Rock Monitor climbs up the wall. He is in total about 1 foot in length. The poor thing could not get down so eventually let go and plopped onto the ground and disappeared.
I found a Dumpy Longhorn Beetle (family Cerambycidae) crawling on my TV.
An Emerald moth was clinging to the wall.
At days end, a beautiful rainbow......

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Miscellaneous Beetles - Part 1

I am not sure if it because of the amount of rain we have had, but beetles have been very scarce here this summer so I was surprise to go out for a few hours to the dam and find a nice variety which I had not seen before.
I cannot find the name of this beetle but think it might belong to the Tenebrionidae family (Darkling beetles). What was unusual about it for me was the color.
Most plain colored beetles are either black or brown whereas this one was a reddish-orange. It was rather large, over 1 inch. Every time I touched it, it played dead and as soon as I put it down, it would scurry away as fast as its little legs would take it. :)
This one was tiny, about 4mm called a Spiny Leaf Beetle (Dicladispa) belonging to the Chrysomelidae family. The larvae are leaf miners and are well hidden within the leaves.
Can you guess what this is? It is the larvae of the Potato Ladybug (picture below).
They get their name from the fact that they lay their eggs on potato or tomato plants.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Museum Gardens - Part 2

Now if there is one insect which is almost impossible to get shots of, it is these Needle-nose Flies. This is a Philoliche aethiopica belonging to the Tabanidae family.

They are always hovering and before you can get the lens focused, they are off to another spot.

Most of the time the best you can get is a butt shot. :)
One flower I do not see a lot of anymore are Hollyhocks. This garden had plenty of them in different colors but I think I liked this pinkies/red on the best.
In others, bees and other insects were collecting pollen.
Ah yes, the season to multiply!! There was a lot of this going on too. :)
Day Lilies were plentiful….
…some of them with two or more colors in the petals.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wilddog (Lycaon pictus)

Also known as the Cape Hunting Dog.

No two have the same markings, although each have the same black, brown and off-white colouring.

They will hunt and then come home to regurgitate food for the young.
When hunting, they rely on sight rather than smell to find food.

Pups that have gone on the hunt get first priority at the kill, or if the kill has been brought near the den, the young still have first choice to feed.
When the young are in need of chastisement, they will be held down on the ground by an elder putting a paw on his or her neck.

Litters of between two and seven pups are normal.
They hunt in packs and when they have chosen their prey, will run after it tearing pieces out until the animal is too weak to run or fight and dies.

Because of the strict pecking order, they do not fight much amongst themselves.
Once they have selected their victim when hunting, nothing diverts them from it. This enables them to hunt better by concentrating on a single animal rather than randomly chasing other animals of the herd.
Like most dogs, their tails will give an indication of their mood.
Hunting is normally done during the day, preference being given to early morning or late afternoon. They can often be seen lying under a shady tree during the midday heat.