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

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Autumn Walk - Part 8 Final

Some flowers are collected at the end of winter as they make lovely dry flower arrangements.
 A Guineafowl feather lays forgotten in the grass.....
 and a bit further on a porcupine quill. I onder if this belongs to the same one who come nightly to devour all my flowers in the garden? :)
 A caterpillar probably looking for a good place to pupate.
 Golden orb spider with its small male waiting its chance to mate.
 The day draws to an end. It is getting chilly now in the evenings. Time to break out those fresh lemons and make tea with it in the evenings in order to ward off the winter colds and flu.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Farm - Part 6 Final

It is getting towards the end of the day and the moths are starting to flutter around. Many species like this Red Tail are found during the day and settle down at night.
The damselfly will also cling to its piece of grass until daylight comes again.
It is not often I find skippers although we do have many species here.
A very young cricket comes out of hinding to begin its evening song.......
...and a Lappet moth gets ready to go out and find food. It has been a good day and now time for me to settle down, watch the sun set and contemplate my finding of the day..... Tomorrow will be another beautiful day here in Africa, full of more exciting things to find and photograph.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Bush - Part 13

This is a very small weevil.....
with a very distinctive spiny back but I cannot find it in any of my books.
This is one of he most colorful caterpillars I have found so I am keeping him in a bottle to try to breed out next summer and see what it turns into.
This is one of the Wild Potato Fruit Chafers. They all have the same spot markings on the back.
Are moths prettier than butterflies? They are certainly more plentiful and diverse.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Air Show - Part 2A - Harvard

I never know which I like more, the Harvards or the Pitts Specials. They definitely cannot be beaten when it comes to acrobatics.
 The real lineage of the Harvard began in 1937 with a USAAF competition to develop a basic trainer.
 The requirements were for a type capable of basic instruction as well as simulating the controls and feel of an actual combat aircraft. It also had to be able to carry guns and bombs as necessary.
     North American's new design was based on their NA-16, but was vastly improved.
 It incorporated the Wasp engine, A Hamilton Standard variable pitch prop, a hydraulic system to power the flaps and the new inward-folding retractable landing gear.
 Later a stressed skin fuselage, a new rudder and angular wingtips were added.

This prototype (called the NA-26) won the competition. It went into production as the BC-1. (BC for "basic trainer")

The Royal Air Force initially ordered several hundred of this variant, with British instruments and radios, in 1938. The Brits coined the name "HARVARD" for it. (by which name it would become known in all the commonwealth countries....except for Australia, where it was called the "WIRRAWAY") This version retroactively became known as the MK I.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Caught in the act - spider spinning

I loved the way this article was written.... :)

How do spiders spin their webs?

To spin a tale about the spider, member of the species arachnid, we must first examine the common thread that ties them together...the way they produce the silk they use to weave their webs, as well as other contraptions, to suit their particular needs.
 Spiders differ from insects in that they have eight legs, eight eyes, in most cases, no wings, and have only two parts to their bodies, one of which produces silk. They are found in a host of climates, can scurry across the ground, can scale plants, and can skate on, and live in, water. These factors determine how the spider uses it's silk, and what type of silk it produces.

Production of silk begins in certain glands located in the abdomen, or belly, of the beast. Spinning organs at the tip of the abdomen, contain many tiny holes, and function much as a sieve, through which the silk is pressed. The silk strained through is in liquid form, but immediately takes on a solid form, much like cotton candy does, when exposed to air.
 The spider creates a variety of types of silk, each of which serves a separate, yet distinct function. Spiders use the sticky kind to spin webs, to catch and to hold the insects they invite into their parlors until they are ready for dinner. They use the non-sticky, stronger variety to tether down the spokes of the wheel, and yet a different kind of silk for their cocoons.

Even the webs the spider spins differ greatly, depending upon the factors listed above. The most common of all webs we see is the wheel-shaped web. Less common are the so-called "sheet" webs, which blanket surfaces with a funnel, or dome like shape. The trap-door spiders burrow out their webs, and complete them with built-in chutes, through which their unsuspecting guests fall through, right onto the spider's plate. The web we see least often, is the air-tight, bell-shaped home some spiders build...probably because it is completely submerged in water!
 Why aren't spiders caught in their own webs?

In short, startled spiders can be entangled in their own webs, in the same manner as their prey. Generally speaking, however, the spider avoids this deadly mishap, by differentiating between the various types of silk it produces, and by knowing its home turf.

When the spider weaves its sticky, insect-catching type of web, it builds into it safety threads of the non-sticky variety, upon which it traverses without being snared. Its nimble, highly sensitive feet orient the spider about its new home, and past the potential pitfalls, to which its prey fall victim. Unless, of course, something, or someone, startles the spider, in which case all bets are off, and the parlor game is over.

Enlarge the picture below for a better look....

Monday, June 20, 2011

Autumn Walk - Part 7

The end of winter and the wild grass has its beautiful they are!!
 Sorry, once again most of these pictures are not the right way up. How frustrating!! One would think by now - after a month - they would have sorted the problem out!!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Air Show - Part 1

As all of you know by now, this is not my usual type of photography as I do not have a suitable lens for it (nor the experience) but when the opportunity presents itself, I like to add something different to my blog. Through this series, I am hoping I have captured enough of the movement of these wonderful planes to give you an idea of the stunning aerobatics displayed.

Over the weekend I attended a airshow and one of the highlights was this Piper Cub landing on a small 2 ton truck.

Schroll these pictures down fast and you can catch the movement of the palane as it lands and takes off again.
On its first pass it was too high and both carried on to the end of the runway.

 Some of these pictures are a little skew as I had to lean over a fence in order to see past the people next to me who were doing the same thing. :)

 At first I thought that the one wheel was going to be off the side of the vehicle but it was a perfect landing.

 A victory wave for a stunt well done.

 Going to the end of the field again, I was surprised at how quickly the Cub took off again.
Piper Cub

The Piper J-3 Cub is a small, simple, light aircraft that was built between 1937 and 1947 by Piper Aircraft. With tandem (fore and aft) seating, it was intended for flight training but became one of the most popular and best-known light aircraft of all time. The Cub's simplicity, affordability and popularity invokes comparisons to the Ford Model T automobile.

The aircraft's standard chrome yellow paint has come to be known as “Cub Yellow” or "Lock Haven Yellow"

An icon of the era, and of American general aviation in general, the J-3 Cub has long been loved by pilots and non-pilots alike, with thousands still in use today. Piper sold 19,073 J-3s between 1938 and 1947, the majority of them L-4s and other military variants. Postwar, thousands of Grasshoppers were civilian-registered under the designation J-3. Hundreds of Cubs were assembled from parts in Canada (by Cub Aircraft as the Cub Prospector), Denmark and Argentina, and by a licensee in Oklahoma.

In the late 1940s, the J-3 was replaced by the Piper PA-11 Cub Special (1,500 produced), the first Piper Cub version to have a fully-enclosed cowling for its powerplant, and then the Piper PA-18 Super Cub, which Piper produced until 1981 when it sold the rights to WTA Inc. In all, Piper produced 2,650 Super Cubs. The Super Cub had a 150 hp (110 kW) engine which increased its top speed to 130 mph (210 km/h); its range was 460 miles (740 km).

A curiosity of the J-3 is that when it is flown solo, the lone pilot normally occupies the rear seat for proper balance, to balance the fuel tank located at the firewall. Starting with the PA-11, and some L-4s, fuel was carried in wing tanks, allowing the pilot to fly solo from the front seat.