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

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Leeufontein - Part 4

This picture came out so stunning that I could not resist putting in a close-up shot of this dragonfly. It is a Red Basker (Urothemis assignata) and rather large in size. They return to the same tip of grass or stick every time so are easy to get pictures of too.
I am not sure what was going on with this spider but it looked like one was eating the other. Unfortunately I did not notice it until I got downloaded onto my computer.
I am begining to come to the conclusion that we have the most beautiful moths. I have seen them come in all colors and sizes with the most wonderful patterns. What a pity that they have been so neglected when it comes to naming them.
If there is one species of insect here which I do not even try to learn, it is the robberflies. They look so much the same to me, yet they come in all sizes.
While we were sitting down and having a cup of coffee, this Stick insect came strolling passed. They are so unusual.
I know I have posted pictures of this grasshopper before but this one shows its wonderful colors in the wings which is unusual to get pictures of.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Roses 2

Roses come in all the most beautiful colors of the rainbow....

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Farm - Part 3

Another unknown pretty moth.
It looks kind of scary from this angle doesn’t it? :)
Longhorn beetles all belong to the Cerambycidae family some of which are very colorful.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Monkey House - Part 1 - Squirrel Monkey

A visit to the Money House was a great change from insects and I enjoyed the day.
Squirrel Monkey
Saimiri sciureus
ORDER: PrimatesFAMILY: CebidaeGENUS: SaimiriSPECIES: sciureus

The average body mass for adult males range between 700 to 1100 grams, and for females the range is between 500 to 750 grams.. The cheek teeth have large cusps assists the common squirrel monkey in eating insects. Males have longer canines than the female. The tail of the common squirrel monkey is prehensile in infants but the adults lose this ability.
Adult squirrel monkeys are not very big - they are about as big as a squirrel - 10-14 inches (26-36 cm). Males are larger than females. Their fur is short, thick, soft, and brightly colored. The skin on lips and around nostrils is black with almost no hair. These monkeys are white around the eyes, ears, throat, and on sides of neck. The top of the head is black to grayish, back forearms, hands, and feet are reddish or yellow with shoulders and hind feet mostly gray. The thumb is short but well developed. Their under parts are whitish to yellowish, and the tail is bi-colored with a black tip.
The common squirrel monkey is found in the countries of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Paraguay and Venezuela; a small population has been introduced to Southern Florida. This species prefers rainforests, and can adapt to different kinds of rainforests. The common squirrel monkey prefers to live in the middle canopy, but will occasionally come to the ground or go up into the high canopy. They like vegetation which provides good cover from birds of prey like the rainforest, savannah, mangroves, or marshlands.

The common squirrel monkey is considered both frugivorous and insectivorous, preferring berry-like fruit on branches. They also look for mollusks, and small vertebrates, such as tree frogs. They obtain a majority of water from the foods eaten, and will also obtain water from holes in trees and puddles on the ground. When fruit is scarce, the common squirrel monkey will drink nectar. Squirrel monkeys have been known to eat insects, spiders, bird eggs, young birds, flowers, buds, seeds, leaves, tree gum, sap and nuts. Zoo diet is usually vegetables, fruit, and monkey chow.
The young are cared for by other females as well as the mother, but not by any males. Social interactions are centered around a group of dominant females. The common squirrel monkey gives birth to a single offspring. Infants are able to climb from birth and the mother’s supporting role is less than with other monkeys. Other females help raise the baby.

Squirrel monkey groups are subdivided into adult male bands, mother-infant bands, and juvenile bands. Adult females with their young form the core of the group. Adult males intermingle with the females only during the several months of mating season.
The common squirrel monkey travels through the forest quadrupedally on the branches and leaps when it moves in the lower stories of the forest. This species uses quadrupedal positions when it feeds. Squirrel monkeys move through the trees by leaping. They have thighs that are shorter relative to their lower legs; this allows more jumping force.

The Squirrel Monkey has extremely dextrous fingers to clamber through the trees as well as to investigate food and find hidden insects. Although it has a short thumb, this is well developed. Its tail is longer than its body, but this only helps it balance and is not prehensile.
The common squirrel monkey will spread urine on the bottoms of the hands and feet. Other monkeys can smell this as it marks the territory. In addition, they also distribute a musky glandular secretion throughout their fur (especially on tail) as scent to mark territory or to leave a trail for others of the troop to follow as they go through the trees. This odour turns away hunters who might otherwise kill them for food

Like other primates, squirrel monkeys have a wide range of calls and body postures. Among their 26 calls are chirps and peeps to stay in touch as they forage, squawks and purring during mating, and barking in anger.
Squirrel monkeys are diurnal. They are usually quiet but will utter loud cries when alarmed. They are arboreal but sometimes they will come down to the ground. Bands or troops can be from 12-100. Occasionally troops as large as 500 have been seen in undisturbed forests.
Status: Squirrel monkeys can live up to 20 years.

Although not yet endangered, the Common Squirrel Monkey is among many rainforest animals threatened by deforestation. The species has also been captured extensively for the pet trade and for medical research.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Leeufontein - Part 3

Have you ever had one of these crawl on you? It feels kind of weird. LOL!!
Are there any vets out there? These are some kind of parasites crawling around on fresh dung from either a wild cat or dog and I was wondering if anyone could tell me more about them?
A tiny grasshopper with its racing stripe.
The reserve has some wild animals on it and some like this zebra have become quite tame. It came over to see if we had something to eat and was quite contented to have a brown bread sandwich. :)
Such lovely dragonflies!! They were landing all around us and so easy to get a picture of for a change.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Farm - Part 2

Rock Pigeons are very distinctive with a large red circle around their eyes and are the largest of the species here.
Weavers collect pieces of palm fronds, grass and anything else in that line with which they build and line their nest.
Considering they only have a beak to build with, the nests are something which we cannot duplicate using two hands!! They are strong and can withstand very harsh storms.
Hanging Flies belong to the Mecoptera family and are sometimes called Scorpion Flies. Being predatory, the male must mate with caution or be eaten. LOL!! He distracts the female by offering her something to eat while he goes about his mating business.
I don’t have a clue what this is but would guess at it being some kind of wasp??
All flowers are pretty. This one grows on a vine and is quite small.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Odds and Ends - Part 14

This is a very strange creature, about 4" in length and I think it belongs to the Stick Insect. This was a very nice description of them:

"The Phasmida (stick and leaf insects) are plant-eating insects often resembling sticks or broad leaves. They do not have their hindlegs adapted for jumping as in the closely related order Orthoptera (grasshoppers, katydids and crickets.) Whilst there are about 3000 species, only about 30 are leaf insects.

In the daytime these typically long, slender stick-like insects remain remarkably well camouflaged in their habitat, commonly in woodlands, jungle or gardens. In fact, they may be present in gardens for years without being noticed. Go out at night with a torchlight and they are then active, walking about and feeding. Many are not the boring, placid twigs people imagine them to be. Some species have an amazing range of behaviour, including using spiny legs in defence, as well as chemical defences. They are prepared to shed a leg in an effort to escape (capable of re-growing later if the insects are pre-adults). A number of species are winged in at least one sex – sometimes the wings are brightly coloured and flashed open to startle a potential predator. In the absence of males, many species are able to reproduce by parthenogenesis (egg development without fertilisation) – a handy means of survival.

Eggs are often seed-like in appearance. They are usually dropped onto the ground, where knobs on the eggs of some species are attractive to certain ants. Some species glue eggs to branches, or deposit them in crevices. Despite good camouflage, predators such as birds and animals eat all stages of stick insects; hence females lay many eggs (over 2000 in some species)."
This spider was very small, maybe 4mm in length and most of it was legs.
Tree Cockroaches belont to the Blaberidae family. They are sluggish and carry their body close to the ground. The females are wingless and sometimes carry the egg case until hatching. The males have glands on their backs which produce a secretion to attract females.
I think this is some kind of Stink bug of the Pentatomidae family.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Flower Mantis (Harpagomantis tricolor) Hymenopodidae

An update of the Flower Mantis (Harpagomantis tricolor): he has now lost his curled up body, got his first wings and is very pretty. The danger is of him flying away when I feed him.
This is exactly what he did on day and I was so sad it happened as I was hoping to get pictures of him into adulthood. Maybe I will be lucky enough to find another one.
In searching for him, I found another strange one. Below: Cone-headed Mantis Family Empusidae
I have never seen so many different species of Mantis as I do not living back in the bush. Some of them have very larh forefeet and others not. Below: Stick Mantis (Hoplocoryphella grandis) Family Thespidae
This one was very long and slender and someone mentioned that they do not think they have ones which look the same as this in the USA. Have you seen one like this?
These are plentiful and have a very disctinctive white mark on their heads. Unfortunately my book does not give the names of most of these.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Leeufontein - Part 2

Has there ever been a plant which is more thorny than this? Yet, these thistles are very pretty when they flower.
Well I sure had my share or running and leopard crawling after this pretty butterfly!! :) This is a Common Bush Brown (Bicyclus Safitza) and belongs to the Nymphalidae family.
This has to be one of the most curious things I have ever come across and I do not have a clue what it is. It is small, only about 3mm in length and the top is transparent. Can anyone tell me what it is?
A small frog jumped across the path and would not stay still to have its picture taken. Judging by the feet it must be some kind of Tree Frog?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I have learnt a new trick……

As one goes along in life, you always learn new things in life plus tips and tricks.

Taking pictures of butterflies and moths are always a problem as you can get one side of the wings but not the other.

Now I have discovered a way to do it…. Put it in a glass jar and take a picture through it. :) Simple!! LOL!!
This is a Guinea Fowl butterfly (Hamanumida daedakus) - not to be confused with a bird of the same name. :) They are large and belong to the Nymphalidae family. Their markings are very distinct so they are easy to recognize. I actually thing his underside more attractive than the top.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Leeufontein Part 1

One weekend I was asked to join a friend of mine in a private game reserve to go bug hunting and naturally I do not need to be asked twice.

The place is called Leeufontein which translates to Lions Fountain but it has been many, many years since a lion was actually seen there. We arrived just after sun up and found that there were miles of paths we could walk through.

On of the first things I found was this…..can you make out what it is?
Yes, a Stick Grasshopper disguising itself as a piece of grass. :)
This Scarab beetle was amazing…..
I have never seen one so shiny that I could see myself reflected in it.
One tree was covered with these caterpillars. There must have been a few hundred of them.
With so much rain, dams of water are everywhere and it does not take long before waterlilies start popping out.