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

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

How pineapples grow

The main producing areas of pineapples in South Africa are Northern KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape and, on a smaller scale, the Northern Province. It is one of the most important subtropical crops cultivated in the country.

As it is indigenous to the tropics, the crop requires areas where the climate is warm, humid and free from extreme temperatures (25 °C being optimal). These areas have a great potential for pineapple production.
There are 5 major pineapple groups grown throughout the world. Two of these, Cayenne and Queen, are widely cultivated in South Africa.

Planting is done by hand, with or without the aid of a planting machine. Use of the latter results in uniform, neat plantations.
Harvesting should be done 7 to 14 days after yellowing. It is labour intensive because workers walk in the space between ridges to pick the fruit by hand, loading it into baskets, or onto a boom harvester.

After harvesting the crowns are broken off (not twisted) and left on top of the plants in the field or are placed in bags to be collected at a later date for planting.
Pineapples are extremely easy to grow if you live in a warm climate. Break off the top and ensure the bottom is immersed in the water of a glass bottle. Soon shoots like this will start to sprout. When they fill the jar, take it out and plant it in the garden. The trick is not to let them dry out while still in the bottle.

This is an imitation pineapple Ananas bracteatus and actually belongs to the Bromeliaceae (Bromelaid) family.
It gets these beautiful red pineapples on it but they are not edible.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Flamboyant Tree

(Delonix regia) The Flamboyant or Flame Tree originally came from Madagascar and many of our streets are lined with them. It grows to a height of 8m (25 feet) and is only found in sub-tropical climates where there is good summer rainfall. A popular tree covered with masses of orange- and scarlet flowers in summer, and followed by 7cm long, woody seedpods. The pinnate leaves are attractive too. They make excellent bonsai's.

You will NEVER guess what happened to me today!!

On the way to work this morning a young girl of 9 or 10 came up to me and said "I brought you a present" and laid in my hands two big mulberry leaves covered with silkworms. Now how can you say no to that?? So here I am, the proud mama of about 20 of them. LOL!! Her dad mumbled something about her having hundreds of them and they disappeared. I wonder if I had screamed and dropped them what they would have done?

Saturday, September 27, 2008


The Proteaceae family is more than 140 million years old, already existing during the time of Gondwana land when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Southern Africa is home to 360 species of protea in 14 genera (groups). The word "protea" is used commonly to refer to any member of the Proteaceae family, while "Protea" with a capital "P" is used specifically for the genus Protea which are the flowers like the sugarbush and the king protea. Genus "Leucospermum" are the pincushions, and genus "Leucadendron" the cone bushes, grown for their colourful foliage as well as their cones. Genus "Serruria" is famous for the Blushing Brides.
Proteas do not grow in excessively damp areas (over 3 m of rain per year) nor in hot humid areas (greater than 80% humidity with temperatures over 30°C for several days).
This is one of the pincushion variety. Some species are small like this and others grow into 15 foot trees.
One of the protea's are our national flower....not this one though.

Information :

Building a new home - Paper Wasp (Ropalidia) Vespidae

This wasp was building a new home on the wall outside. Unfortunately it is in the shade of a tree and so I had to use a flash (built-in one) so the pics are not too good. (See, I post awful pics too!! LOL!!)For some reason it started it in the middle of insect eggs which are there, now I do not know if this was to ensure that any eggs she laid would have food when they hatched or if it was by accident.

Friday, September 26, 2008

A scorpion in my bath (Pseudolychas ochraceus) Buthidae

Just last night when I got back I was thinking that today I must go and buy a UV light so that I can go out scorpion hunting, when lo and behold, I go to run my bath this morning, and here is this little fellow in it. His body length, excluding tail and pinchers is, about 1 1/2 inches. I am sure if I look hard enough, I will find big brother out there somewhere.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Another nursery stroll

Ah!! My second favorite pasttime!! Today there were Begonia's of all shades....
beautiful daisies....

and of course, wonderful bonsai.

Succulent plants by the dozen.....
and these stunning orchids.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

On top of a hill

A while back I found myself on top of this hill on a late winter’s afternoon. It was hazy and typical for this time of year but it was quite scenic. This man-made dam is about 45 minutes drive from my home.
There are a lot of very new and expensive housing developments going on around the shores…..
….including this exclusive golfing estate.
There is an old tower situated on the hill, about 20 feet high and overlooking the valley and dam. The story goes that it was built at the beginning of the 1900’s by a Frenchman who owned the property at the time. He would bring all his young ladies up there and coax them into making love to him with the champagne and flowers he gave them.
Beside the tower, this interesting tree presented itself against the watery sky.
An aloe had just started to get it’s flowers but they were not going to open for another couple of days.
There are many colorful rocks laying around……
…and on the otherside, you could see the hill continuing and I was wonder how long it would take before this beautiful view would be covered with houses too.
The end of winter marks the end of the Protea’s. They are our national flower an come in many different varieties which all bloom in the colder weather.
The sun was setting fast as it always does at this time of year……
…and with one final shot of the reflection of it on the water, it was time to head for home.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The time for Pansies has arrived

The name pansy is derived from the French word pensée meaning "thought", and was so named because the flower resembles a human face; in August it nods forward as if deep in thought.
Pansy breeding has produced a wide range of flower colors including yellow, gold, orange, purple, violet, red, white, and even black (dark purple) many with large showy face markings.
A large number of bicoloured flowers have also been produced. They are generally very cold hardy plants surviving freezing even during their blooming period.
Plants grow well in sunny or partially sunny positions in well draining soils. Pansies are developed from viola species that are normally biennials with a two-year life cycle.
The first year plant produce greenery and then bear flowers and seeds their second year of growth and afterwards die like annuals.
Because of selective human breeding, most garden pansies bloom the first year, some in as little as nine weeks after sowing.
Plants grow up to nine inches (23 cm) tall, and the flowers are two to three inches (about 6 cm) in diameter, though there are some smaller and larger flowering cultivars available too.
This is one of the dwarf variety.