For the identification of insects and other fauna and flora of South Africa.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Ostrich (Struthio Camelus)

The ostrich is a large, flightless bird - the largest living bird on earth. When fully grown it weighs over 120kg (200+ pounds).

Life expectancy: They can live to be 40 years old or more.
Predators: The chicks have many predators including vulture, hyena and jackal.

One ostrich egg equals 24 chicken eggs.

In breeding season, the lower front of his legs go a bright red.
Ostriches have great vision and because of their strong legs can run at 70 km (40 miles) per hour.

Ostriches are mainly vegetarian, eating grass, succulents berries and seeds, though they will also eat insects. They swallow large numbers of pebbles which help grind the harder food in the gizzard and aid digestion.
Territorial males compete for flocks of 3 to 5 hens. Mating includes elaborate displays of hisses and dancing. Once divided into mating groups, ostriches in some areas use communal nests to hold anywhere from 14 to 60 eggs. The nest is a hole scraped in bare ground about 1 to 2 feet deep. The average egg is 6 inches in length, 5 inches in width, weighs about 3 pounds, and is shiny and whitish in color. Eggs take approximately 35 - 40 days to hatch. The male, which has mostly black feathers, sits on the eggs at night, and the drab, brown female who lays up to 20 eggs, covers them during the day. Only 15 percent of chicks make it to their first birthday, despite having protection from their parents.
Ostriches were almost wiped out in the 18th century due to hunting for feathers. By the middle of the 19th century, due to the extensive practice of ostrich farming the ostrich population increased. The movement changed to domesticating and plucking ostriches, instead of hunting. Ostriches have been successfully domesticated and are now farmed throughout the world, particularly in South Africa, for meat, feathers and leather. The leather goes through a tanning process and is then manufactured into fashion accessories such as boots and bags.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Flower Assassin Bug eggs and nymph (Rhinocoris segmentarius) Family Reduviidae

When I did the article on the Assassin Bugs, I put the one I brought home in my fish tank which has sand in it in order to take pictures.
I did not realize at the time but the female had laid these eggs at the bottom of a piece of wood I had in it. This clutch of eggs is about 4mm in height.
Soon I found these tiny assassin bugs crawling around. Each one is only about 3mm in length.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Brown Snake Eagle

The Brown Snake Eagle is an uncommon resident and found mostly in the northern parts of S Africa, and of medium size.

It feeds on snakes up to 3 meters (9') long. Snake Eagles hunt from a perch and do not soar over the ground looking for prey. Included in its diet are also monitor lizards.

They breed in the summer and only lay one egg per hatch and the chicks are fed by both parents.

Fighting ants 2 - Camponotus Postoculatus Forel

Until I started doing macro / close-up photography, I never realized how many species of ants there are and rarely even noticed them (unless they got into my sugar bowl. LOL!!) One day I watched this fight between these two ants. It went on for about 20 minutes and eventually the one was so exhausted, it just let itself be dominated by the other. I am not sure what the fight was about , if it is two males, or a male and female.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Medicinal Plants

This has always been a fascinating subject to me and one I wish I had studied.

Rub Wild Garlic leaves on the head to treat a sinus headache. Starflowers (African Potato)A ‘wonder’ ingredient taken from the Starflower (Hypoxis hemerocallidea) helps to boost the immune system. It is used for diseases like cancer (especially prostrate cancer), tuberculosis, arthritis and bladder disorders.This plant is NOT really the African Potato – that is an edible plant. The Starflower is poisonous.Small amounts of the juice can be applied to burns and a black dye extracted from the leaves is used to darken floors.
Vleilelie (Orange River LillyThis belongs to the Amaryllis family. A decoction of chopped leaves is taken for rheumatic fever.
The Wild Dagga (cannabis) Leonotis leonurus was used as tobacco by the earliest dwellers in South Africa. It is not related to real cannabis, but this plant can:
Relieve headaches.
Nurse your colds and coughs
Fix high blood pressure. Sunbirds rely on the nectar of the flowers in early autumn.
Kudu Lily
Ghaukum fruits are eaten fresh and are used in oriental cooking and for jam (preservatives).

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Lilies are such a joy to have in the garden and come in a great variety of colors.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Dragonflies and butterflies.

So late in the season and I am still finding dragonflies and butterflies. Thank goodness!!

This is (Trithemis arteriosa) Red-veined Dropwing
Definitely looking for a mate here.
(Eurema brigitta) Broad-bordered Grass Yellow
(Cynthia cardui) Painted Lady

Friday, May 16, 2008


Although June / July is the heart of our winter, we seem to be having unusual weather for this time of the year. The days are warm and in the region of 50 degrees with the nights not falling much below 15. The result is that although some trees and shrubs have turned to autums colors, others are now getting new blooms on them.
Around the corner, the one shrub is heading for winter while the yellow one next to it is getting new flowers.
This is a grape vine once again surrounded by beauiful green plants.
Not 5 yards away, this lemon tree is bursting into flower.
The Golden Shower does not seem to know what season it is either and is full of glorious flowers which is attracting the bees.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Common Metalic Longhorn Beetle (Promeces longipes)

These are medium sized, body length about 1/2 an inch.
They feed on pollen and nectar. The larvae feeds as it burrows into wood.
Their eggs are laid in the cracks of the stems or roots.
These were doing a mating dance around the head of the flower they were on.


Even this late in the season, I am still finding some interesting caterpillars around. This one was climbing up the wall of the cottage.
He got such a fright at having his picture taken, that he fell onto the ground and I was able to get this interesting one of his cute little feet.I took him and put him on a nearby bush. I love those two tufts of hair sticking out on the sides.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Even Winter is colorful.

Winter is the time for the aloes to start blooming. With their bright orange, red and yellow, the season does not lack color.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Botanical Gardens - Part 2

Coral Tree
A bee having a feast
Common dotted Border Butterfly
A beautiful weed.