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

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Water Scorpion - they breath through their tails

My goodness!! I am glad I don't have too!! This is the Stick Water Scorpion (Ranatra) family Nepidae.

They are found in standing pools of water and are quite large 4-5 inches in body length and then an extra 6 inches of tail which is raised to the surface of the water and is used as a breathing siphon.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Ferns and Bromeliads (pineapple family)

I have put the ferns in just to add contrasting color.

Bromeliads are one of the more recent plant groups to have emerged, presumed to have evolved at the close of the Cretaceous, over 65 million years ago. Fossilized bromeliads have been dated back to roughly 30 million years ago.
The greatest number of primitive species reside in the Andean highlands of South America suggesting a beginning there. The west African species Pitcairnia feliciana is the only bromeliad not endemic to the Americas, and is thought to have reached Africa via long-distance dispersal approximately 12 million years ago.
Humans have been using bromeliads for thousands of years. The Incas, Aztecs, Maya and others used them extensively for food, protection, fiber and ceremony, just as they are still used today.
European interest began when Spanish conquistadors returned with pineapple, which became so popular as an exotic food that the image of the pineapple was quickly adapted into European art and sculpture. In 1776, the species Guzmania lingulata was introduced to Europe, causing a sensation among gardeners unfamiliar to such a plant.
In 1828, Aechmea fasciata was brought to Europe, followed by Vriesea splendens in 1840. These transplants were successful enough that they are still among the most widely grown bromeliad varieties.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Passionfruit Plant - for Steven

Here is one at a different angle Steven so you can see it is part of the stamen. I hope I am correct in assuming it was the brown form in the previous picture which you were refering to. No, it was DEFINITELY not a dumb question. Thank you for your interest. :)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Sunflower "whole seed" (fruit) are sold as a snack food after roasting within heated ovens with or without salt added. Sunflowers can be processed into a peanut butter alternative, Sunbutter, especially in China, Russia, the United States, the Middle East and Europe.
In Germany, it is used together with rye flour to make Sonnenblumenkernbrot (literally: sunflower whole seed bread), which is quite popular in German-speaking Europe. It is also sold as food for birds and can be used directly in cooking and salads.
Sunflower oil, extracted from the seeds, is used for cooking, as a carrier oil and to produce margarine as well as and biodiesel, for which it is less expensive than the olive product.
A range of sunflower varieties exist with differing fatty acid compositions; some 'high oleic' types contain a higher level of healthy monounsaturated fats in their oil than even olive oil.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Some funnies

Today is a special day for me and I wanted to start it off with a laugh. This is another of my hobbies when I have nothing better to do - I mess around on the computer with my photographs seeing what effects I can get out of photographs.

Monday, August 25, 2008

An interesting black ball - Elegant grasshopper (Zonocerus elegans) Pamphagidae

During my walk I noticed a strange black ball on one of the bushes. It was about 5cm (4 inches) in diameter.
On closer inspection, it turned out to be hundreds of little grasshoppers in a cluster.

In six weeks time, they will turn into this.....elegant grasshopper (zonocerus elegans)

Cycad - a protected species

South Africa is one of the world centres for cycad diversity. With 39 species of cycad, it ranks third, behind Australia and Mexico, for the countries with the highest numbers of cycads.
 Two species from southern Africa are extinct in the wild and all but one of the remaining South African cycads are believed to be threatened with extinction.
Cycads are therefore one of the most threatened groups of plants in South Africa. They are also well known to gardeners and are an ideal flagship group to highlight the problems facing plants in South Africa.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Green Milkweed Locust (Phymateus viridipes) Pyrgomorphidae

These are large bodied with mostly red wings when they open them. Females lay eggs in late summer and they hatch in early spring.
When alarmed, they raise and rustle their wings and produce an evil smelling foam from the thoracic joints.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Friday, August 15, 2008

Strolling through the nursery

It was still early so I stopped at one of my favorite nurseries only to be greeted by this drunken pair soaking up the sun. LOL!! They are about 3 foot in height and I loved the bottle sticking out from its hiding place.
There was a lovely show of pansies of every color imaginable.
I have never seen such tiny dwarf daffodils and although this is not the best picture I took, I had my finger next to it to give you some perspective.
I cannot believe that there are so many flowers around in the beginning of winter. These Camellia’s looked beautiful.
…and the cyclamen came in many different colors too.
This Azalea looks beautiful with the drops of water on it.
This is a truly beautiful bonsai and is about 18 inches in height. I did not recognize what kind of tree it was but looked like it might be something with flowers. I love the way the stem has been trained.
A late rose.
On the one side of the nursery, they have a pet shop and were selling these lovely koi. They were about 3-4 inches long….still babies.
After this I stopped to pick up something for lunch and headed home. Hope I could should show you something different today!!