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

Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Marula Tree (Sclerocarya Birrea)

The Marula Tree (Sclerocarya Birrea) family Anacardiaceae

The Marula is a medium to large tree, usually 9 meters (25 feet) tall. It is single-stemmed with a dense, spreading crown and deciduous foliage. Fascinatingly enough, only the female trees bears fruits, while the male tree displays flower.
Marula wood has been traditionally used for carving pestles and mortars, bowls, drums, beehives and stools and even canoes in some areas. During colonial times it was even used for tomato boxes and toilet seats.
Regarded as a sacred tree in Africa, the Marula is protected in communal lands under the local chief. Because of its leafy foliage and shade-bearing size, it is popular with villages for local meetings, and often in a ploughed field will be the only tree left standing. The Marula tree is often the spiritual centre for ritual activity in kraals and villages.

The bark of the tree has medicinal properties and is used widely in treating dysentery and diarrhea, rheumatism, insect bites and a variety of other ailments. Essence from the leaves is said to provide a remedy for abscesses, spider bites and burns. Preliminary tests show weak pharmalogical activity relative to hypertension, anti-inflammation and painkilling.

There is even legend that a woman can take bark from the male or female tree to determine the sex of her next baby.
The ripe Marula fruit make a wonderful jelly that is delicious when served with meat especially lamb.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Slender Net-winged Beetle ((Cladophorus marshalli) Lycidae

Slender Net-winged Beetles are orange and black and contain cantharadin, making them distastefuly to birds. They feed off the nectar of flowers.
Copper-tailed Blowflies (Chrysomya chloropyga) were used in treating jagged wounds in humans by introducing sterile maggots into the wound. This practice is being revived.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mantis egg case / sac (ootheca)

Congratulations to Craig who is the winner of this round!! (Sorry everyone else, if I dont say this he is going to sulk for a week and you know how awful THAT can be. LOL!!)

Adrian and Doug got it spot on while many others correctly guessed that it was a cocoon of some kind. Well done and thanks for playing everyone.

It is the egg sack (proper name: ootheca) of a mantis. The eggs are layed in a frothy mass that hardens as it dries, and is about 1 inch in length and would contain over a hundred eggs. Mantids hatching from it are about the size of a medium ant for which they are often mistaken. The pictures below is of a mantis which is about to shed its skin, hence the brown color, as they are usually green.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Mystery Monday - Part 6

This is an easy one for Craig who sulked all week because he only "almost" got last week's one right. LOL!!

I am sure many of you have seen this before.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Montecasino - Inside - Part 2

Please note that all these pctures are INSIDE the building.
Seven different Tuscan neighbourhoods are represented at Montecasino, ranging from the elite uptown to the less affluent 'fishing' village.
Throughout the property fountains, piazzas and cobbled streets bring the beauty of Tuscany to life.
A sidewalk cafe.
Main road with police car.
An old Fiat.
Available taxi.
The food courtyard.

The facility includes:
Casino with 1700 slot machines, 70 tables and 14 cashier stations
Restaurants and coffee shops
Bars and clubs
Food Court with a variety of fast food outlets
15 cinema screens operated by Nu Metro
Pieter Toerien Theatre
Montecasino Bird Gardens
Magic Company Family Entertainment
Boogaloos Skate Park
Shopping outlets
Wicked Food Cooking School
Conference and events facilities
InterContinental Palazzo Hotel
ATMs - ABSA Bank, First National Bank, Nedbank, Standard Bank
Foreign Exchange
24hr Information Desk
Lost and Found
Gun Safe
Secure parking - undercover and open-air
Complex security
Public toilets

Saturday, February 21, 2009


The orchids are in bloom. This one has attached itself to a tree by the roots.
It is a large plant and I wonder that it is so secure there.
A few weeks ago it started to shoot out.
Now it is starting to open its flowers.
They are tiny, maybe one inch in length but pretty nevertheless.
These are some of the cultivated ones being sold right now.
They come in the most interesting colors.
This one unfortunately had a lot of watermarks on it but still lovely to look at.

Friday, February 20, 2009

A robber fly having lunch - Asilidae

We have about 500 species of robber flies here, in various sizes. This one caught himself some lunch. They take a wide range of prey, including bees, wasps and grasshoppers.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mushrooms - Part 3

I have been trying to find out what the white lumps are on this but no one seems to know. If anyone can tell me, please do.
The common, garden variety....

They all seem to have their prefered place to grow. These I found in potting soil.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Montecasino - Outside - Part 1

Montecasino is situated on 38ha of land in Johannesburg. Costing R1.4 billion to build, it was completed in 2000.
It brings the spirit and energy of old Italy to life in South Africa.
This upmarket complex was constructed in exacting detail from over 6 000 drawings, creating an authentic representation of a Tuscan village.
The Montecasino village has been painstakingly created, with various neighbourhoods and buildings aged and weathered to be an accurate representation of the structures as they have stood through the centuries in Italy itself.
The buildings around the perimeter of the property continue the theme.
Visitors to the complex get the impression of a village open to the elements, but the entire building area, including 2+ kilometres (1 mile) of cobbled walkways, is covered by a massive roof.
The roof covers three levels and reaches a height of 14 metres. (50 feet)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Pretoria - Part 7

The driveway leading up to the Airforce Memorial, is lined with wild olive trees.

Built on Bays Hills, the memorial offers a clear view of the Air Force Base in Zwartkop and the top of the Pretoria's Voortrekker Monument.
The design takes the shape of a triangular star-pattern comprised of three wings, of which one forms a neutral chapel for small services. The memorial is about the height of six storeys and symbolises flight.
The Garden of Remembrance is set out for approximately 3 000 members of SAAF who died during war.
Below it, there is a museum housing of airforce planes which I featured back in September.
Below is one of the Pom-Pom trees growing in the gardens.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Lizard and katydid

Going to the swimming pool, I saw this lizard/gecko catching a katydid and dashed back inside to get my camera. He is small, maybe 5 inches including the tail.
They are by no means the best pictures I have taken as there was no time to set anything on the camera as he swallowed it so quickly, it was gone before I knew it. Everytime I got a bit closer, he moved further away too.
I guess that these are enough to give you an idea of what happened though.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

African Humming bird moth (Macroglossum trochilus) Sphingidae

You have to give me an “A” for perseverance!! I keep on trying to get good shots of these and come up with something that is “almost”. LOL!!
The African Hummingbird moth (Macroglossum Trochilus) is very small and feed on tubular flowers. They belong to the Hawk Moth family.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Cookies anyone?

Almost everyone was on the right track here!! Thanks for playing!!

LOL!! So now you are all going to want to kill me because this is about the last thing you expected me to post!! I had to throw in something different to make it more interesting. :) It is a Ginger Cookie.
There are some people who think because I have spent most of my life in the bush it means that I can't cook or bake, as if the two things are not compatible. Well here is the evidence. :)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Pretoria - Part 6

Another of our landmarks is the Voortrekker (Pioneer) Monument. It is set on a hill and can be seen for miles away.

It was erected to commemorate the centenary of the Great Trek when Dutch and German pioneers from the Cape of Good Hope travelled by ox-wagon to the northern parts of South Africa.

A series of maps at the museum charts the most important migratory patterns in the history of Southern Africa. The focus is on the lifestyles of the Voortrekkers, as well as life after the Great Trek (1835-1852).
It was built between 1937 and 1949.
The inner walls are decorated with stone wagons.
This is an actual wagon from that historic time.
This is a replica of a Zulu beehive hut. Their Chief, King Dingaan reined between 1828-1840. These huts are constructed by the men of the clan.
The frame is made of sapling poles placed in a circle and bent inward, then lashed together. After the frame is complete, it is thatched with grass. The floor is made of a mixture of anthill clay and cow dung. Once dry, it is covered with cattle fat.