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

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Acari - Ticks

Reading “The origins of the group are late in evolutional terms – about 120 million years ago.” I wonder what ever happened to start them developing in the first place? Humans and animals alike will agree that ticks are something we could have done without!! LOL!!

“While the larvae or nymphs of hard ticks wait for a host to happen by they enter into a kind of dormant condition. Their metabolism comes to a vertual standstill and they can persevere in this condition for months on end. They will, however, avoid climate extremes by crawling down and seeking shelter every night. The one stimulus that will invariably wake them up within seconds is the vibration and smell of an approaching host.” (that’s US again!! LOL!!)

Bont-legged Tick (Hyalomma)
 “Ticks are largely dependent on the Haller’s organ on their front legs to identify and find their hosts by smell. The ‘hunters’ can even determine the direction of the largest CO² concentration by stretching their two front legs wide”

“Cattle and game famers generally believe that veld fires are an effective way to control ticks. Apparently this is a questionablebelief. The larvae and nymphs perch on vegetaation and grass waiting for hosts are very senseive to the smell of smoke and drop off to seek shelter under litter or stones long before the fire reaches them.”

“In summer nobody in Africa in his (her) right mind will go on a hike through grassland wearing short pants. (How true!!) Long pants tucked into socks, boots or puttees and a shirt tucked into the belt will keep most ticks off your body, since they always crawl upwards. Insect repellents on clothing also repell ticks.”

So in other words, there is NO getting away from these nasties!!
Brown Tick (Rhipicephalus)

Extracts from : Goggo Guide (Erik Holm and Ansie Dippenaar-Schoeman)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Common Dotted Fruit Chafer (Cyrtothyrea marginalis) Scarabaeidae

 Family Scarabaeidae 
These are small beetles, about 9mm and are found in the coastal areas as well as central and northern regions.

The adults are attracted to fruits and flowers especially Arum Lilies.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Grasshoppers - Orthoptera

As you have probably noticed, I have not been posting many grasshoppers lately and that is not because I do not have pictures but because there is so little information available on them.
Acrididae Sp
 On a visit to an entomologist, I asked the reason for this and was told that there is no one study them!! Can you believe it? 
Acrididae Sp
I would think that the kind of destruction they cause sometimes plus the wonderful variety to be found that they would be an interesting species to study, but it seems not.
Acrididae Sp
Green Milkweed Locust

Green Milkweed Locust

Green Milkweed Locust

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sulphur Orange Tip (Colotis auxo) Male

Family Pieridae
They are seen throughout the year peaking in late summer and autumn.

Their habitat varies from hillsides and forest margins to the coast and flatlands.

They are found along the eastern coast and into the northern areas.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Natal Sprite (Pseudagrion spernatum) Female

Family Coenagrionidae
These are widespread and are found from Port Elizabeth up along the coast an further inland heading north and were first described in SA in 1911.

The male’s uniformly blue body and the specific blue shapes on the tails of both sexes is quite distinctive.

They frequent vegetated margins of streams and rivers.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Cucurbit Ladybird (Henosepilachna bifasciata)

 Family Coccinellidae
Each elytra has 6 large black patches and their bodies are covered in down.

Both adults and larvae feed on the leaves on various species of the pumpkin family including watermelons and cucumbers.

They are found throughout SA.


Friday, May 18, 2012

White-barred Gypsy Moth (Palasea albimacula)

 Family Lymantriidae

Besides a description, I cannot find any interesting information on this pretty moth.

I was however able to take pictures of both sides of this one which is good for identification purposes.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Spotted Maize Beetle (Astylus atromaculatus)

 Family Melyridae
These are small beetles with scattered erect black hairs on their body.

Adults eat pollen and so they are seen clustered on various flowers and maize heads.

The eggs are laid under dry leaves.

 The larvae lives in the ground and feed on decaying vegetable matter sometimes causing damage to germinating maize seeds.

They were introduced here in 1916 from South America and is now a major pest in gardens and agricultural lands.

Ingestion of adult beetles has caused cattle deaths.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Spotted Joker (Byblia ilithyia)

Family Nymphalidae
Female - darker
 In the winter season, the colors of both  sexes are not as bright as in the summer.
During the dry season the female had chocolate-brown bands replacing the underside hind wing orange bands.
They are common in the north eastern parts of the region.
Their habitat is grasslands and savanah.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Millipedes – Family Myriapoda

Fossils found of their ancestors date back to 450 million years ago and then they were 2m (6’) in length.

They have poor eyesight and depend on pheromone scents to find a mating partner.

 Females hollow out a chamber in which she lays up to 300 eggs at a time and they take 2-4 weeks to hatch.

The larger species of millipedes encase each egg with a clay capsule but smaller species do it around the whole batch.

Millipedes do moult and this process can take up to three weeks to complete as they have to extract each leg from the old sheath.

Their lifespan can be as long as 10 years and the Giant Millipede who has dormant periods, even longer.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis)

The Harlequin Ladybird varies from yellow to orange to red and the number of spots it has is variable.

 Originally from East Asia, it is now an invasive species on four continents and can be recognized by the white cheeks and the black “M” on its face.
 It competes with local species for food and potentially causes disastrous, far-reaching ecological cascade effects.
Some people are allergic to its secretions and can be severely toxic to pets.
IT BITES!!!!!!!!! Unlike other ladybirds which are harmless.
 These ladybirds adversely affects wine-making, potentially causing large financial losses.
 They have been identified in South Africa from 2001.
 It is an almost indiscriminate predator of soft-bodied arthropods.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Longhorn Moths - Adelidae family

Longhorn Moths belong to the Adelidae family and unfortunately there is not much information to be found on them.

There are about 70 species in the region but this is the first one I have come across. It is a very tiny moth, hardly more than about 4mm in length.

They feed on flowers and the larvae of some of the species form meandering scribbles in leaves which increase in diameter as the larvae grows. Others make cases like small bagworms.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Golden Bishop

These are small birds about the size of a Sparrow and flock together with the Red Bishop and other Euplectes species eating mostly seeds and herbs.
 Their territory is only the central and northern areas of SA.

They frequent wetlands and fields of wheat and sorgum.

Both parents feed caterpillars to the young.