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

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Giant Jewel Beetle (Sternocera orissa)

Giant Jewel Beetle (Sternocera orissa) Family Buprestidae
This has a body length of about 1 1/2 - 2 inches in length. Everytime I saw him he seemed to be hanging onto something. LOL!! They are clumsy fliers and the female lays her very large eggs in the ground. (Sternocera orissa)

Monday, July 28, 2008

The weirdest insect you have ever seen - Stick Insect

Australian Giant Stick Insect (Extatosoma tiaratum) family Phasmatidae
A Giant Prickly stick insect which comes from Australia but found in pert shops here. Unfortunately a lot of people let them loose after a while and so they are found in bush areas.

Changing the "safe" for the "not so safe"

White Legged Toktokkie (Dichtha incantatoris) Family Tenebrionidae
"It is so boring always playing in the back yard"
"I wonder whats over the hill?"
"Whoa!! Now I know what they keep me there, its safe!!"

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Close-up of a butterfly Citrus Swallowtail (papilio demodocus)

The Citrus Swallowtail (papilio demodocus)is one of our more common butterflies. It is large with a wingspan of about 85mm. They lay their eggs on citrus trees. I caught this one in the garden and he was frienly enough to crawl on my hand and let me take the following two photographs.
This is a close-up section of the wing. Sometimes I think I should get a microscope for pictures like these.
These were taken of one I found in the garden. He was on his last legs and sat perfectly still while allowing me to take these pictures.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Winter walk 26/7

Early morning and there are about 30 birds sitting outside the window in the tree waiting to be fed and making one hang of a racket. This was taken through the glass so it is not so good, but you can also see how misty it is in the background. Even at 10pm, it was still cold outside although the sun is shining, but it has no warmth today so I have not been able to sit outside. I decided to take a walk down the road and found another pray mantis sac of eggs. This is the second one I know of around here and will be watching them to see when they hatch. There was also a very large bagworm hanging from a tree waiting for warmer weather. (Me too…no, I am not a bag or a worm!! I am waiting for warmer weather! LOL!!)
Did you know that you can grow roses from seed? Did you know they had seed? The reason why the nurseries do not do so is because it is much more difficult than growing it from a cutting.
Poor old Petunias!! They are definitely on their last legs…a bit like me. LOL!! But I see there are new buds starting out there too.
The gooseberry bush is definitely at the end of its season. They get fruit in winter but the bush looks sad with just these few fruits still on it. I ate the ripe one and it was lovely and sweet.
Hmmm!! Dipped in fresh cream they are as delicious as strawberries.
The Lantana have no more flowers on them so there is not a butterfly to be seen. It is dreary out there and I headed back home to a cup of coffee and a slice of pizza. Now THERE’s a good breakfast for you!! I guess I will curl up with a book and try to keep warm inside. Maybe later it will get warmer!!

The biggest, fattest caterpillar I have ever seen!!

Mopane larvae (Imbrasia belina) Family Saturniidae
This caterpillar is about 5 inches long and as thick as my thumb. I have brought one home to see what it eventually becomes but I get the feeling it is only going to do this in the spring. I found it in a park about 3-4 miles away.
It is one of the species of Mopane worms we have here.
They are a staple part of the diet in Southern Africa, they are harvested twice a year and sold in the local markets. The mopane worm is the brightly colored caterpillar of the Emperor Moth, which is one of the world’s largest moths, and the caterpillar lives on the leaves of the mopane tree – hence, it gets its name. The worms are hand picked or shaken off the trees. The local collector’s squeeze the Caterpillars to remove their bright green ‘guts’ and then they are cooked in a cauldron of salty water until the water has evaporated, they are then dried in the Hot African Sun. Once dried, they can be stored for many months. Their protein content is three times that of beef, weight for weight, and they are traditionally cooked in a stew containing tomatoes and onions. The biggest worms have the best flavor as they contain more fat ; the texture is similar to tofu or soya meat and they taste a little like dried fish, but they seem to soak up the flavor of whatever they are cooked with. Mopane’s can also be eaten as they are as a snack like, ‘jerky’.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Storm clouds

Today I am going to post two blogs. Yesterday I woke up to a cloudy, cold day but as I was driving to work, I saw these magnificent colors in them and started to take some pictures. As the day progressed, I took some more and was astoundd by the beauty of them. Unfortunatly we did not get any rain although we badly need some as there has been none for a few months now. They say that this weather is going to last until Sunday so I an hoping for a few drops by then.

Do they feel pain as we do?

Striped Toktokkie - Tapping Beetle (Psamodes pondersus) Family Tenebrionidae
I was outside and heard something falling and found this beetle lying on his back after coming off the wall. You can see the dent. When I came back and started to take pics, I noticed that his front, right hand side leg was missing a segment. I wonder if they feel the pain of the loss as we do??

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Dahlias - Part 1

I love flowers!! There is no end to the variety and color of them. These dahlias are amongst my favorites.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Giant Toktokkie - Tapping Beetle (Psammodes virago)

Giant Toktokkie - Tapping Beetle (Psammodes virago) Family Tenebrionidae
This tapping beetle must think this is a meal fit for a least for him anyway. :) This little fellow is about 1 1/2 inches long. They tap their rear ends on the ground then stop and listen to hear if some female taps back. WHAT a way to pick up a partner!! LOL!!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Mating butterflies

These are Common Mormon Butterflies It comes from Asia and is one of the species found in the Butterfly House near me. They are fairy large with a wingspan of about 7 inches.

Monday, July 14, 2008


Millipedes: Two sets of legs per segment. Feed on decomposing plant material.

Cenitpedes: One set of legs per segment. Active predators.

Millipedes here come in all colors. Red....
Black (The red below her is a lava which she was feeding in the hollow of this tree trunk)
and mating. LOL!!