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

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Young zebra

I have two clear winners here and thay are NOT Craig and Tom naturally!! I wonder why the two of them still insist that they are this brilliant scientific team?? :)
Congats to Dale and Becky for the correct answers!! You are both brilliant!!
Thanks for playing everyone. :)

While riding around in Pilansbery Game Reserve, I came across this young zebra who was only a few weeks old.
He kept on hiding bedind the branches of the tree. I wonder if he thought I could not see him.
Zebra defend themselves by biting and kicking their opponent.
When moving, they are usually seen walking one behind the other, although this applies only to areas where they are found in small herds.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sterkfontein Caves - Part 3

Part of the complex consists of six cathedral chambers, largest of which is the dripstone-decorated Hall of Elephants, 23 m (75 ft) high and 91 m (300 ft) long.
Other chambers include Fairy Chamber, Bridal Arch, Lumbago Alley and the Graveyard.
Dr Robert Broom, of the Transvaal Museum in Pretoria, began excavations of the cave in 1936 and made several discoveries of bones and other fossils.

His great find came in 1947 – the exceptionally well-preserved skull of a species of early man-ape which he called Plesianthropus transvaalensis, who lived about two million years ago.

The skull was that of a female and became known as ‘Mrs Ples’.
The species has subsequently been reclassified as Australopithecus africanus when the skull was positively recognized as belonging to the same species as the 'ape-child' skull discovered by Professor Raymond Dart at Taung in the northern Cape in 1924.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Common Coral Tree (Erythrina lysistemon)

The common Coral tree is a medium sized deciduous tree occurring in the bushveld and coastal areas.
Red flowers form just before the leaves appear and fruiting is from September to February. The flowers attract Sunbirds and insects which then attract insect eating birds. Woodpeckers and Barbets like to nest in these trees. The leaves are compound with three heart-shaped leaflets.
The bark is used for treating rheumatism and arthritis. Crushed leaves are used to reduce inflammation on septic sores. Burnt bark powder is used to reduce inflammation on open sores. Toothache is treated with an infusion made from boiled or soaked bark. To relieve earache an infusion of the leaves can be used as ear drops.
Kudu, Nyala, Elephant, Klipspringer, and black rhino, browse the leaves. Vervet monkeys and baboons eat the flowers.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Spider and egg - False Button Spider (Steatoda capensis)

I found this small spider at work and put it in a plastic film bottle to take home and photograph. When I opened it up, I discovered she had laid a large size egg inside.
I decided to let her loose outside and gently moved her and the egg onto the ground next to a tree.
No sooner was she out and tried to move her egg to a place of safety, when the ants came along and tried to take it away from her. I thought that she would chase them away.
Instead, she gave up and went to huddle against the tree leaving her eggs to the ants to carry away.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Rice Paper butterfly

This was taken at the butterfly house nearby.
The Rice Paper butterfly, also called the Paper Kite butterfly, wood nymph, or tree nymph (Idea leuconoe) is a distinctive black and white butterfly.
The wingspan is 95 to 110 cm across. The chrysalis is yellow with black markings. It is from Southeast Asia. Classification: superfamily Papilionigiae, family Nymphalidae, subfamily Danainae, Genus Idea, Species I. Leuconoe.

The one below had just emerged from its pupae and was still unfolding its wings.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bush Grasshopper (Thamithericles croceosignatus)

There is clearly one very clever person here and that is Andrea from SIDECAR!! He has just posted the most beautiful pictures of a leopard.

We have many kinds of grasshoppers here but mostly they have brown or green eyes.
I found this one and could not believe the color of these.
It looks like a demon from hell but quite cute too!!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sterkfontein Caves - Part 2

Discovered by an Italian prospector Guigimo Martinaglia, who was searching for gold and lime in 1896, this labyrinth of interconnected caverns was formed over millions of years by underground waters slowly dissolving the dolomitic rock.

Now the water table has dropped and the spectacular eroded shapes of the dolomite can be seen as one walks through a vast chamber to an under ground lake which fills other extensive caves beneath its surface.
Its tranquil, crystal-clear waters extend some distance into unexplored chambers.

Several interesting dripstone formations are to be seen; although, sadly, many of the cave's more spectacular stalactites and stalagmites were removed or damaged by early limestone-mining activities.
In one part of the cave, visited by tourists, is a portion of an ancient consolidated infill that collapsed about 2 million years ago from an older and higher cave.
Above this infill is a long shaft which leads up to massive deposits which are currently being excavated by scientists.
Other deposits being worked in one part of the underground cave system date back to 3 million years.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


I received the following story per e-mail with these images and thought I would share it with you.The little rat - thought to be only two to three months old - was spotted scampering into the leopard's enclosure shortly after feeding time at the Santago Rare Leopard Project, in Hertfordshire.

So intent was the plucky rodent on its mission to snatch a tasty snack, that it seemed not to notice that its path was taking it within a whisker's breadth of 12-year-old Sheena.
Clutching a corner of raw meat with its tiny paws, the rat busily tucked in, until it sensed one of those whiskers moving in.

Sheena, bemused by the interloper coming between her and the remains of dinner, padded over on paws big enough to wreak vengeance with a single swipe.

But rather than giving the thief at very least the hearty set down it deserved, she gingerly lowered her nose for an exploratory sniff.
Rattus paused, lifted its dainty pink claws in submission, then - obviously deciding on a nothing-ventured-nothing-gained approach - continued to tuck in.
And after another tentative investigation, Sheena gave the leopard equivalent of a shrug and turned away.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Clivias are a very popular flowers in our gardens and I am sure you have them in the USA too.
This attractive plant is a shade-loving perennial with a fleshy, tuberous rhizome and dark-green, strap-shaped leaves. The flowers are usually orange (rarely yellow) and all arise from the same point on the flowering stalk. Due to the exceptionally beautiful flowers, C. miniata is a popular garden plant and it is also commonly grown as a pot plant in many parts of the world. There are four species of Clivia, but it seems that only C. miniata and C. nobilis are used to any extent in traditional medicine.

The whole plant is used, including the rhizome, roots and leaves.
The rhizome is used by the Zulu to treat fever. The whole plant is used to help with childbirth and to hasten parturition . The rhizome is also a snake-bite remedy and it is claimed to relieve pain.

The rhizomes of Clivia species are extremely toxic due to the presence of numerous alkaloids. Their continued use should be strongly discouraged.
The toxicity is due to several so-called Amaryllidaceae alkaloids, of which lycorine is the best known compound . Several structurally related alkaloids have been isolated from C. miniata, such as clivacetine, clivonine, cliviasine and clividine.
Lycorine occurs in C. miniata at levels of up to 0,4% of the dry weight and causes salivation, vomiting and diarrhoea at low doses; paralysis and collapse at high doses. Leaf extracts were shown to have uterotonic effects.