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

Friday, March 29, 2013

Angulate Tortoise (Chersina angulata)

Family Testudinidae
 This is the only Angulate tortoise we have and is endemic to South Africa.
 It is unusual in that it has a single protecting gular shield where all other land tortoise have a pair. In male-on male fights, this is used as a battering ram and to overturn the opponent.
The shell length is 30cm and they weight about 2kg. It lives for 32 years in captivity.
 It is found along the Western Cape coastal regions and slightly inland and seen in a wide variety of vegetation types ranging from semi-desert to fynbos and succulent Karoo thicket.
 Females lay several single clutches of eggs per year in ground softened by rain or urine. Incubation varies between 3-7 months depending on the temperature.
Info: A Guide to the Reptiles of Southern Africa (Johan Marais & Graham Alexander)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Addo Flightless Dung Beetle (Circellium bacchus)

Family Scarabaeidae
The flightless dung beetle (Circellium bacchus) is a species of dung beetle endemic to a few areas of South Africa, including the Addo Elephant National Park and the Buffalo Valley Game Farm. It is the only species in the genus Circellium.
The species was originally widespread in Southern Africa, but it only survives in the few areas mentioned above; as such, it qualifies as an IUCN vulnerable species.
Its vulnerability is exacerbated by a number of other factors, including the fact that its habitat is under threat by agriculture and human activity, that is has low breeding capacity as well as low dispersability (as a consequence of being flightless), and that its survival is strictly dependent on a number of vertebrates (particularly elephant and buffalo) that are also experiencing a decrease in population.

The flightless dung beetles mostly feed on elephant or buffalo faeces, but they have been recorded to also feed on dung from other species such as rabbits, baboons, antelopes, and ostriches.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Bal-byter Ant (Camponotus fulvopilosus)

This is a large ant but would not stay still for one minute to allow me to get some decent shots of it.
 As can be seen by the large head, this is a worker. They do not sting but spray formic acid at attackers by tucking in the abdomen forwards under the thorax.
 They nest in soil below large rocks, fallen trees and bases of small bushes and are found in small colonies.
Info: Field Guide to Insects of South Africa

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Common Dotted Border (Mylothris agathina)

Family Pieridae
 I found this pupa and put it in a bottle to see what would develop and it turned into a beautiful butterfly.
 They are large with a wingspan of 58-75mm.
 The outer margins of their wings, both upper and lower, have an unmistakable margin of black dots along the border.
 Found along the eastern and coastal areas.
Info: Field Guide to Insects of South Africa

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Darting Cruiser Dragonfly (Phyllomacromia picta)

Family Aeshnidae
 They are large and one of our really pretty ones with those green eyes.
 It came and landed right in front of me so I was able to get some great shots of it.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ant-like/Dark Sac Spiders (Apochinomma formicaeforme)

Family Corinnidae
The next time you see what looks like an ant on its own, count the legs as it may have 8 and not 6 which means it is a Dark Sac Spider or Ant-like Spider.
 When moving, they move their front legs up and down to mimic the antennae of ants. They eat ants, termites other insects and spiders.
Info: Spiders of the Kalahari (Ansie Dippenaar-Schoeman)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Whiteheaded Vulture

They have a body length of 78-82cm and males a wingspan of 202-220cm.
 They are not found anywhere else in SA except for the KNP area where they are seen in pairs or solitary.

The females lay only one egg per season with an incubation period of about 55 days.

 Although they are carrion eaters, they will also eats hares, francolin, lizards etc. This one was feeding on the carcass of an Impala.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Wavy Owl Moth (Calliodes pretiossima)

Family Noctuidae
Medium size wingspan of about 44mm.
 Found in subtropical and bushveld areas around the north western and eastern regions.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Marula and elephant myth

Ever heard of elephants getting drunk on Marula fruit? I do not know where the story started or came from but it is NOT true. They do love Marulas and in the process of eating them, they break off huge branches from the trees sometimes destroying the whole tree but the fruit passes through their bodies within 24 hours. They do not chew it so it comes out the other side still whole as can be seen in this picture resulting in the fruit not even being digested let alone having time to ferment. I cannot see why they bother to eat it as they can derive no nutritional value from them and yet they continue to love eating them. Maybe like us, it just fills up that little hollow space they have in their daily 300kg need.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Plum Dung Beetle (Anachalcos convexus)

Family Scarabaeidae
A large nocturnal species of dung beetle.

The adults feed on carrion as well as dung.
 Males and females jointly roll balls of dung away from source. After it is buried, an egg is laid in another ball and added to the nest.

Females, sometimes accompanied by males, care for their progeny until they emerge as adults.
Info: Field Guide to Insects of South Africa

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Frog in postbox

On leaving one of the camps I walked past the postbox into which people put their chalet keys when they leave.
 To my surprise, there seated at the entrance was a frog. LOL!! I wonder when last keys were actually put in there? Unfortunately from the side glimpse I have of him, I could not identify it.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Hover Fly (Asarkina Africana)

Family Syrphidae 

I never seem to have much luck at catching flying insects as my camera is set much too low to get the movement in focus so it was surprising that these came out okay for a change.

For more information on this species, please go to:

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Zebra colouration

No two zebra have the same colouration and pattern as can be seen here by the thickness of the stripes, the colour and shadow stripes.. It even differs on each side of their bodies so when the young are born, the mother has to keep her foal seperate from the rest of the herd for a few days in order for him to learn it and be able to recognise her.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Spider Dung Beetle (Sisyphus bornemisszanus)

Family Scarabaeidae 

Adults congregate to feed on fresh dung, especially of small mammals as well as that of tortoise, toads and birds.

These are small beetles with very long legs. This dung ball is about the size of a pea.

Friday, March 1, 2013