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

Monday, April 30, 2012

Pink-lipped Agate Snail (Achatina immaculata)

 Family Achatinidae
These are huge snails and one shell found had a length of 15cm (About 7").
 This is an East African species which has an extensive range and found in coastal regions as well as forests and urban gardens.

 The live under leaf litter and the female lays clutches of up to 120 eggs.

In some regions they can become a pest and are reported to cause damage in citrus orchards.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Horned Adder (Bitis caudalis)

Family Viperidae
Caution: Under NO circumstances ever try to catch or handle snakes unless you are an expert on them and know what species they are and how to handle them!! BABIES CAN BE AS DANGEROUS AS ADULTS, SO BE CAREFUL.

I caught this one and it is still a baby, about 20-25cm (10”) in length. They can grow up to 60cm (2’).
 They have a distinctive horn above each eye from which they get their name and the head is triangular in shape.

Although they are mainly found in the drier, arid areas of SA, they also inhibit mountain and rocky habitats.
 Their coloration changes according to where they live and inareas where there is desert sand, are much lighter.
 They bury themselves in loose sand leaving only the eyes and top of the head exposed. They also lay in the shade of bushes to ambush prey as this camouflages them well.
 If molested they will coil and inflate their bodies and hiss loudly. This one was very placid and made no attempt to strike at me as they usually do.

They feed at dusk mainly on lizards but will eat frogs, small rodents and birds.
 Usually the female will have 3-8 young which are born in the summer at the same time as many lizard eggs hatch.
 Their bite hurts more than it is life threatening and the mildly cytotoxic poison will cause swelling and maybe some necrosis (affecting the nerves).

 This one first covered itself lightly with sand then wiggled into it with only its head and the tip of its tail showing.
Information from: A Guide to the Reptiles of Southern Africa by Johan Marais

Thursday, April 26, 2012


These are small birds only slightly bigger than a Robin and are found in most of SA except for the arid regions in the west and north.

They are insect eaters and can be seen in all kinds of habitats.

Mostly they are seen in pairs. They lay one clutch of eggs per season consisting of about 3-4 eggs which are bluish-green in colour with rusty speckles.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Large Copper Dung Beetle (Kheper nigroaeneus)

Family Scarabaeidae 

These beetles are active by day where the adults cut portions of fresh dung from various animals. This is done jointly by the male and female who roll it away to be buried.

The females care for the brood when they hatch.

Males body temperature rises before fighting over females.

They are found in the north eastern regions of SA in savanna and woodland habitat.

Friday, April 20, 2012

King Monkey Moth

This does not look much like a monkey to me so I wonder where they get their name from? J
Monkey or Lappet moths are medium to large in size and are recognized by their very broad, often oval, wings. 
They have a slow flapping flight and become immobile when disturbed.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Eland (Taurotragus oryx)

Eland (Taurotragus oryx)  Family Bovidae
These are the largest of all African antelope the males standing about 1.7m at the shoulders and can weigh about 700kg.

Their name is borrowed from the Dutch word for elk.

At birth the horn buds are visible in both sexes and grow rapidly up to about 7 months of age thereafter slowing down.
 The hair on the body is short with a longer tuft of dark brown on the forehead, which is matted and has a strong smell due to a secretion from a glandular region in the skin at its base.

Eland are equally at home in semi-desert to forest edge or grassland areas.

Although they will drink water where available, in desert areas they obtain moisture from food like Tsamma melons which they eat in season.
 They are found in small groups and not large herds as with most smaller antelope species but in some regions, due to habitat constrains, herds of up to 600 have been seen.

In some regions, Eland will migrate for food but in general, will stay within a specific area.

Cows can be quite savage in repelling strange calves, whipping them with the sides of their horns.
 During the summer month, Eland will feed at night.

In spite of their size, they are good jumpers and have been known to clear a 2m high fence with ease.

Like Elk, Eland were breed in Russia and soon became tame enough to milk. Their milk is very high in fat and highly nutritious.
 They mostly feed on shrubs and tree leaves, flowers and seed pods although will eat flowers and wild fruit using their horns to pull down higher branches.

Eland breed throughout the year and after a gestation period of about 270 days, a single calf is born weighing about 35kg.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Lesser Bushbaby

Family Lorisidae (Primate)
These are by far the worst pictures I have ever posted but as they only come out at night to feed and I did not want the flash to hurt their eyes, these enhanced pictures are the best I can do in order to show them to you. It is a case of these or nothing. :)

Bushbabies are easily tamed and come readily to feeding platforms such as this.
 They are found even in town areas where they will nest in a hole of a tree or in the roof of a house.

They prefer eating insects but will also eat fruit and the gum of certain trees.
 There are two species of Bushbabies found here, this is the Lesser Bushbaby with a thin tail and the Greater or Thick-tailed Bushbaby found in our coastal regions.

They are the cutest little things with a body length in adults reaching only about 6 inches. People have tried to keep them as pests but are found to be not suitable because they sleep the whole day through so cannot be played with.

Like many primates, they pee on their feet and this in turn leaves their scent on trees as they jump around in order to mark their territory. Although they are mainly found in trees, they will come down to the ground where they hop instead of walk.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Bush Hopper

Bush Hopper (Brachytpus rotundifrons) family Thericleidae

These are small grasshoppers who frequent bush and trees rather grass and feed on young shoots.

They have a very short antennae and their combination of brown and green coloration makes them easily identifiable.

They are found in the northern parts of SA only in bush and grasslands areas.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Leaf Mantis (Phyllocrania paradoxa)

 Family Hymenopodidae
This is one instance in nature where the female is more attractive than the male who does not have any of the leaf projections on his body. I unfortunately do not have a photograph of one yet.
Although they grow to be quite large, this one is still a baby, about 2.5cm (1 1/2”) in body length and as with all young, has the lower part of her body curled up.
The female has a large, erect dorsal projection on her head and elongated eyes.
They are great mimics of the leaves they live on and will remain motionless for hours waiting for prey, even swaying their bodies in the wind in order to blend in better.
 They eat flies and any other insect which come within their grasp.

They are found in the northern and eastern regions of SA.
It caught this beautiful butterfly and was hanging upside-down feeding on it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Red Bishop

They are distinguished from the Firecrowned Bishop by having only its face black in colour and not forming a hood.

Wherever there is water, these small birds can be found nesting in the reeds, even at garden ponds.
 They are gregarious, coming together in huge flocks of hundreds of birds. They feed on grain and seeds so mainly are seen on the ground.

Clutches average 3 eggs per season where they are fed insects by the female.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Longhorn Beetles - Cerambycidae

Two species of Longhorn Beetles which I cannot identify.

They all belong to the Cerambycidae family which includes Timber Beetles.
 Some species are very colourful having lovely stripes or dots and these are mostly found on plants and flowers by day.

Those of duller colours like these are usually nocturnal.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Cranefly eggs (Nephrotoma)

Cranefly eggs (Nephrotoma) family Tipulidae

I really dont think you want to know where I found these do you??

Well okay, if you insist ........ in my shoe!! LOL!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Common or Marsh Bluetail (Ischnura senegalensis) male

Ischnura senegalensis, also known variously as Common Bluetail, Marsh Bluetail, Ubiquitous Bluetail, African Bluetail, and Senegal Golden Dartlet, is a widespread damselfly of the family Coenagrionidae, native from Africa, through the Middle East, throughout southern and eastern Asia.

The species is found in slow-stagnant or leisurely flowing water bodies and tolerates both disturbances and pollution but is absent from intact forest areas.

This is the male of the species.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Bar Maiden (Thyretes caffra)

Family Notodontidae
 The body has a row of orange dots.

Adults are found in grasslands clinging to the stems.