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

Friday, November 30, 2012

Interesting facts about bees - Part 3

The only function of drones is to mate with the queen.
The workers are sexually undeveloped females.
Life expectancy is approximately 28 to 35 days.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Red Toad (Schismaderma carens)

I had to laugh at these Red Toads ..... there was an old disused pond which they were breeding in and I caught some in a bucket in order to take pictures.

The male of the mating pair would not let go of the female no matter what happened!! LOL!!

In a way this was good as it allowed me to take both male and female in one picture so you can see the markings and the difference in size.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Mayflies - Order Ephemeroptera

Mayflies are very small and sometimes confused with mosquitos but can be distinguished by their tails.
Some species only live a few hours and some a day and they go throught their whole life cycle in that time. They live near water and do not have mouth parts with which to eat. Of the 2500 known species, about 100 occur in the region.
Info:Field Guide to Insects of South Africa.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Spotted Tortoise Beetle (Conchyloctenia punctata)

Family Chrysomelidae

They are common in South Africa and can vary from a copper colour to orange or red.

They are smallish, about 12mm in length.
 The front portion is a reddish brown unlike most other tortoise beetle which have an almost clear ridge around it.

The eggs are laid on the underside of the leaf and hatch after about two weeks, the pupa being white with black markings.

Beetle larvae stack their excreta (the long thin, black filaments) as well as cast off skins onto a thin, fork-like appendage near the muscular anus. This forms the “tail” of the larva.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Firebugs and nymphs (Cenaeus carnifex)

They get to be about 9-10 mm in length and are found in masses on lush vegetation.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Birds of Pilansberg - Part 2

The grass is still high and the dew clings to it in the early morning light.
In the centre is a huge dam. Because of the water, the birds and animals are plentiful.
The Grey Lourie peeps curiously at me through the branches. A noisy bird which gives warning to the animals if danger approaches and sounds like it is saying "go-away". Living in trees, in pairs or small groups. They usually mingle in groups of 3-20, occasionally up to 60 beside water hole, jumping, climbing agilely about in trees while raising and lowering crest.

The male is easily distinguished from other francolins by the plane reddish-brown head contrasting with the barred underparts. The female can be distinguished from other francolins (Shelley's francolin in particular) by the white eye stripe and lack of chestnut stripes on breast and flanks.
The Coqui francolin is arguably the smallest francolins in southern Africa, averaging 260 g and 240 g in weight for male and female respectively. The only other francolin species that can compete with it in terms of low weight is Hartlaub's francolin, which averages 270 g and 230 g for male and female respectively.
Stopping at a watering hole to drink my coffee, I watched the baby hippo which was part of this group.
The Lesser Striped Swallow is a common summer migrant to the warmer areas of the region. It is usually seen in pairs or small groups, and is most often seen close to the nest sites on a house or culvert, or some other man-made structure. The Lesser Striped Swallow eats mainly aerial insects, but also some seeds.
Fork-tailed Drongo - It is usually seen singly or in pairs, and is a conspicuous bird, as it usually perches in the open, using fence poles, telephone wires or dead trees as a hawking perch It sallies out to catch flying insects, chasing bees and butterflies with a fast strong flight. It is a bold and aggressive bird, and will harass raptors and other birds that are much larger than it, including owls and sparrow hawks, as well as cats.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Dung Beetle (Heliocopris pirmal)

Family Scarabaeidae
This has to be one of the most interesting and by far the largest scarab I have every found!!

It is about 4-5cm in length (2-2.5 inches).

What made it even more interesting is the fact that when I picked it up it squealed at me!! LOL!! I was kind of shocked but have been told that many of the Heliocopris and Copris species do make these kinds of noises.

Thanks Adrian for the identification and information.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Acacia Katydid (Terpnistria zebrata)

Family Tettigoniidae

They are large in size, this one being about 4-5cm in body length.
The leg spines resemble Acacia leaflets and coloration matches Acacia foliage on which they are found.
They are found throughout SA except for the Cape and arid regions.
Info: Field Guide to Insects of South Africa

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Romans – Order Solifugae

There are about 900 species of Solifugae in the world of which about 240 are found in Southern Africa. They mostly occur in tropical and subtropical habitats and are found over the whole of Africa.

They are regarded with great fear probable due to their hairiness, fast movement, large jaws and aggressive behaviour but while the larger species can deliver a painful bite, they pose no threat to humans.
 They are known under various names: Sun Spiders, Jaag Spiders, Romans, Fat Eaters and Hair Cutters.

The ability to regulate their body temperature without excessive water loss is well developed and they have an unusually high tolerance for high temperatures and drought compared to other desert arachnids.
 They can be divided into two species: those active by day and those active at night. The larger of the species are active at night and spend the day in burrows.

Solifugae are loners and strongly antisocial. After mating, the female makes a burrow where she lays between 20-200 eggs which start hatching in about 2 weeks. Most Romans live for about 12 months.
Info: Goggo Guide – The arthropods of Southern Africa (Erik Holm and Ansie Dippenaar-Schoeman)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Fruit Chafer (Cheirolasia burkei)

These Chafer beetles belong to the same family as the Scarab (Dung) beetle. There must have been about 30 of them in this was definitely mating time. LOL!!

Sonny being taught the facts of life.....

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Birds of Pilansberg - Part 1

As all of you know by now I am not a birder nor do I have the right lenses to take good shots of them. However, with insects being scarce on my last trip to Pilansberg, I started to take some shots of the birds I saw and they did not turn out too badly so I decided to do a weekend series of them. Most of the series will be a variety of birds in each one but this African Hawk Eagle (Hieraaetus spilogaster) came out so well I thought I would do a post on them alone.

One of my greatest problems here was that it was early morning and I was having to shoot almost directly into the sun which did not help at all.
Francolin and Guineafowl are probably its main diet but it also feeds on small mammals such as mongooses and Dassies (Hyrax). Reptiles form part of their daily intake too.
The African Hawk Eagle is distributed from south of the Sahara to just south of the Tropic of Capricorn in South Africa.
Hilly woodland is their favored habitat.
Their nest is about 3 feet in diameter and made in the fork of a large tree.
They will usually breed from May to July. Both the male and female incubate the eggs for a period of up to 44 days.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Owl Fly (Melambrotus)

You talk about a learning curve?? I am coming across things I have never heard of before let alone seen!! LOL!! I must admit, I am enjoying every moment of it, but it sure is taxing these little old grey cells of mine. :)

I found this Owl Fly (ascalaphidae sp. melambrotus) tucked away inside a succulent. It is medium size (about 2 inches) from the top his head to the tip of his thorax.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Interesting facts about bees - Part 2

Queen bees
The queen is the only sexually developed female in the hive.
The queen mates in flight with approximately 18 drones.
She only mates once in her lifetime.
A queen can lay 3,000 eggs in a day.
Queens can live for up to 2 years.
A queen can lay her weight in eggs in one day and 200,000 eggs in a year.
Fertilized eggs will become female offspring, while unfertilized eggs will become males.