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

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Buffalo Thorn Tree

The Buffalo Thorn (ziziphus mucronata) is a medium size tree and often found growing on termite mounds and has a small berry which matures into a reddish-brown color. These berries can be found for most of the year and make a passable coffee when ground. It has many medicinal uses one of them is a leaf paste which is used for boils and other skin infections. Sufferers of dysentary and lumbago either chew the root or drink and infusion made from it. The leaves and fruit provide useful fodder in times of drought.
To our Zulu people, it is a very sacred tree. The two thorns, one pointing straight and the other curved backwards, is believed to indicate the future (straight) and the past (curved).

When a Zulu dies far away from his birthplace, a small branch of the tree is pulled across his/her body and is believed to be able to capture the person’s spirit. This branch is then taken back to their home and buried there. If on the journey they use any kind of transport, busses, trains etc. they will pay for two people, one for themselves and one for the spirit of the person carried in the branch.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Rhus Flea Beetle (Blepharida) Family Chrysomelidae

This beetle is less than a half an inch in body length.
Some of the species feed on poisonous plants and Polyclada were used by our Bushmen for poisoning arrowheads.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Disguised Moth - Marshalls Lappet (Craspia marshalli) Family Lasiocampidae

Enlarge this picture by clicking on it and tell me if you can see the moth hidden away in it......
It is only by using the flash that he begings to stand out a bit from his surroundings.
I have been told that they are not normally found this far south.
Even with the flash, he still blends in beautifully.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Guttural Toad (Amietophrynus gutturalis) Family Bufonidae

I came home late and in the pitch dark heard a noise on the stairs. What a fright!! I dashed inside to get my camera and a light and saw this cute tree frog there. He probably got a bigger fright than I did. LOL!!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Common Rose Aphid (Macrosiphon rosae) Family Aphididae

Rose Aphids can be found on the roses in early spring but a spray of soapy liquid will control them instead of pesticides.
Their natural enemies are ladybirds, hoverflies and some small birds.
They are easily identified by their knees, antennae and very long horns on abdomen being black. In this photograph you can see ladybird larva too.
They range from pale pink to reddish brown in color and are found in winged form.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Orchids 2 (Ochnaceae)

In South Africa, we do not have snow, mistletoe or any of the traditional things associated with Christmas, so I decided to post some of my favorite flowers to share with everyone
May the day be filled with love, sharing and wonderful things.
Thank you for all your friendliness and support since I started blogging. It is greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ladybug - Ladybird Coccinellidae

Ladybirds / Ladybugs come in many colors, some with spots and others with stripes. Most are carnivorous and feed on smaller insects like aphids, but some are herbivorus.
This is the Potato Ladybird and is enjoying a meal of this leaf.

The Lunate Ladybird and its larvae are mostly found on roses.
Ladybirds are extremely hard to photograph as the light shines on their smooth surfaces and reflects back as glare.
I think this is the Ten-spotted Ladybird.......
and its larva. (sorry this is not such a good picure but the only one I have.)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Even weeds can be beautiful - Part 1

Weeds, in various stages of their cycle, can be beautiful too if only we took the time to notice.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Kori Bustard

Today I going to surprise everyone by posting a bird!! LOL!!

This is a Kori Bustard and is slightly bigger than a turkey. It eats a wide variety of animals and plant products, often eating hard materials, such as stones, pieces of bones and even bullet shells and broken glass! The male does a courtship display to multiple females, after which it mates with some of them.
The 1-2 chicks are able to fly when they are 3-4 months old, but they remain dependent on their mother until the following breeding season, when they are 12-18 months old.
Egg-laying season is from July-April, peaking from October-February. The eggs, which are incubated by the female only for 23-25 days, is defended from any lurking predators by chasing them with its head pointing downward.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Arum Lilies

I remember years ago the Arum Lily came in only one color ..... white ... and we called them 'funeral flowers'. Now there are many hybrids and a wonderful addition to a garden.

Friday, December 19, 2008


Ants bury themselves deep inside these little flowers and in the process also help to pollenate them as you can see by the yellow dots on the first one.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Honey Bees - pollen (Apis mellifera) Family Apidae

Their legs get so full of pollen eventually, you wonder how they can fly. The Honey Bee nests in exsisting cavaties in buildings and old trees. It has a very social structure with the larvae being fed by the workers.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Sausage Tree (Kigelia africana)

The Sausage Tree (Kigelia africana) family Bignoniaceae

The trees are over 30 foot in height.
The fruits and bark, ground in water, are either taken orally or used as an enema in treating children’s stomach ailments.

Fruit can be up to 3 foot in length, weighing 20 lbs. In time of food shortages, the seeds are roasted and eaten.

The wood which is whitish yellow and rather soft, is used for planking, boxes and dugout canoes.

The ripe fruits, which are edible, are baked and added to beer to aid fermentation.

The unripe fruits are said to be poisonous but are taken as a remedy for syphilis and rheumatism.
The flowers are pollinated by bats and when they fall to the ground, are eaten by game.