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

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Small bird attacks snake - Kruger National Park

This was AMAZING!! Awesome!! Fantastic!! To see the video, please go to:
 This morning on my way out of camp, I turned a corner and came across a Greyheaded Bush Shrike attacking a Southern Vine Snake. These birds don’t normally go for something this big and why the snake (which has toxic venom) did not bite him, I do not know!!
 The snake puffed up his head and tried to go in the opposite direction, heading for the nearby bushes, but the bird kept on biting him on the head and neck, trying to get a good grip in order to pull him back to the road........
 The bush the snake went into has an aloe growing in the middle with very broad leaves and thorny spines. The bird went from one side of the bush to the other trying to get at the snake but at most, a pull on its tail was the most it could do and nothing dislodged the snake from its hideout.
 After about 10 minutes, the bird gave up and flew off. Although I waited around and peered into the bush for a while, the snake did not come out so I left too.
 This has definitely been the highlight of the nearly 6 months I have been in the park.
 If you like the video, please share the link to it. Thanks.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Millipede Assassin (Ectrichodia crux)

Family Reduviidae
As their name implies, these bugs have an exclusive diet of millipedes.
 They are large and lighter in colour when young as can be seen in the picture below with the wings not fully developed.
 They rest under stones during the day and come out at night to feed.

They are common in gardens and all veld types.
Info: Field Guide to Insects of South Africa

Friday, April 26, 2013

Common Garden Orb Web Spider (Argiope australis)

Family Araneidae
The females are larger than the males.
 Identified by the distinct yellow and grey stripes on the abdomen and banded legs.

Their webs most often have a zigzag band from its centre.
 Webs are usually built in tall grass.
 When startled, they react by shaking their web violently.

The egg sac may contain more than 100 eggs.
Info: Spiders of the Kalahari (Ansie Dippenaar-Schoeman)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Common Bush Brown (Bicyclus safitza)

Family Nymphalidae Satyrinae
These are fairly large with the males having a wingspan of about 40-45mm.
 They are common in the north east and along the coast about as far as Port Elizabeth.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Cone Headed Katydid – Purple Form (Raspolia)

Family Tettigoniidae
This Katydid is mostly found in green but I have now discovered that they also come in this purple form.
 For more information on them, go to:

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Greenbacked Heron

These herons are smallish with a body length of about 41cm

They are found in scattered places throughout South Africa but mostly in the central to northern areas and along the east coast.
 Their preferred habitat is dense vegetated rivers and streams, ponds and lakes.

They are normally seen on their own as they are shy and nocturnal.

Food consists of frogs, small reptiles, insects, crustaceans, spiders and molluscs.

Info: Robert’s Birds of Southern Africa

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Large Green Dung Beetle (Garreta nitens)

Family Scarabaeidae
These are a medium size dung beetle with a body length of between 13-18mm.

These are found only in the north eastern and western areas and are active by day.

The adults cut dung from a fresh pad and moulds it into a ball into which the female lay and egg.

Info: Field Guide to Insects of South Africa

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Southern Foam Nest Frog (Chiromantis xerampelina)

Is it me? The kind of life I lead? Maybe just because I am weird? But it seems to me that every day there is something for me to smile about.

After today’s education program, I packed my things in the car and went back to my tent. On opening the back, I saw a whitish blob where there had not been one before and on closer inspection found it was a Southern Foam Nest Frog curled up and half asleep on a ledge in the back of my car.  (He is about 3” in length.)
 Grabbing my camera, I took some pictures of it then tried to get him into a bottle so I could let him go outside but he was not having any of that “moving” stuff, he was quite comfortable where he was thank you.
 It took a lot of persuasion to get him into it then when I tried to get him out, oh no, none of THAT!! There was no way he was going to move a SECOND time, was planning to stay right where he was no matter how much I shook that bottle!! LOL!!
Eventually he came out and off he went into the thicket. Freedom at last and no more of that pesky woman to disturb him!! I wonder if he thought “Goodness, what a fuss that woman made. All I wanted was to spend one night!!”

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Trident Dung Beetle (Heliocopis neptunus)

Family Scarabaeidae
Large bodied, about 37mm.
 Males have a fork-like 3-pronged extension to proton and a backward-curved horn on its head.
 Adults burrow below or beside fresh dung.
They are active at night and attracted to lights.

 Males and females jointly pack dung for breeding in hemispherical layers in expanded sections of tunnel forming spherical brood masses that resemble brood balls, each with an egg.
 Found in most areas except the Freestate and Cape.
Info: Field Guide to Insects of South Africa

Friday, April 12, 2013

Impala (Aepyceros malampus)

Impala can go up to six weeks without water if necessary, as they derive enough moisture from their fodder to sustain them.

Males use a gland (which looks like a dark brown patch of hair between his horns) as one means of marking his territory.

Studies on impala show that they are capable of leaping up to twelve meters in a single bound.
 Females will eat their afterbirth so that hyaenas and other predators cannot smell that a young has been born. The females of many other antelope species do the same.

Except for during the mating season, impala are to be seen in three separate groups:
a) female herd with young under two years of age;

b) territorial males with females;

c) bachelor herds of males over two years of age.
Male sentries for the herd are pat to be killed first by predators as they usually range far out from the rest of the herd and are therefore more vulnerable.

Born at the height of summer, the young attain full height within three years.

Female impalas have a gland low behind their back legs which looks like brown hair. When they give birth, this gland helps the young to follow their mothers as it gives off a scent which is left on the grass as she walks through it.

Young males are driven out of the herd when they are about two years old. They then join bachelor herds until they are mature enough to hold their own territory.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Northern Harvester Termites (Hodotermes mossambicus)

Family Hodotermitidae
These are large with the soldier reaching a body length of 7-13mm and the queen, 25mm.
Grass and other plant matter is collected for storage.
 Nest system are 1.5 – 7m underground and diffuse, tunnels leading from piles of cut grass and numerous, turreted soil dumps to temporary subterranean grass-storage shelves. All tunnels finally descend to spherical hives (up to 20), each around 60cm in diameter, surrounded by grass-storage chambers and made of fragile, black, horizontal shelves of chewed vegetable matter.
 These are filled with nymphs and house the queen and king.
Info: Field Guide to Insects of South Africa

Monday, April 8, 2013

Scops Owl

A very small owl with a body length of only 18-20cm.

It was sitting in a tree at one of the picnic sites Gaelyn and I visited and if it was not for the caretaker of the place pointing it out to us, we would have missed it completely.

 It is found in almost any woodland but mainly drier savanna and is absent from forests.

They eat insects and scorpions and seen in pairs or solitary. Roosts by day against a tree trunk and is well camouflaged amongst the foliage.

When threatened it will elongate its body and hunts by dropping down on prey from its perch.

They nest in hollows of trees and lay clutches on average of 3 eggs.
Info: Robert's Birds of Southern Africa

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Bombadier Ants Guest Beetle (Cerapterus lacerates)

Family Carabidae
 These are smallish beetles with a body length of just over 1cm and identified by the flattened, squarish antaenna.
 If molested, it sprays quinine-containing gas in explosive bursts.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Vervet Monkey (Cercopithecus pygerythrus)

They will eat almost anything including seeds, lizards, grass and berries.

For protection, they will sleep in the tops of trees at night as the thin branches prevents predators from getting near them.
 Vervets are preyed upon by leopard and certain of the larger species of eagle.

These are the only species of resident monkey found in the Kruger National Park.

Just like certain other species, they will use pouches in their cheeks for storing food.

 These monkeys cannot be confused with the many Chacma baboons found in the same areas. Vervets are much smaller, have a general light grey colouring with a black face and a black-tipped tail.
.They are very social and so the size of the troop can vary according to the area, but usually about twenty are found in a troop.

After a seven month gestation period, usually they give birth to a single young, but on rare occasions they have been known to have twins.

They can become very agitated at the approach of any danger, jumping from tree to tree or hopping about from branch to branch. This pattern of agitation also serves as a warning to the other animals in the area of approaching danger.

Unlike many other species of monkey, their tails cannot be used as an aid for swinging amongst the branches.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

House Daddy-long-legs (Smeringopus Sp)

Family Pholcidae
They are easily identified by their long legs.
 After the female lays her eggs, she carries them around in her mouth and when they hatch, the babies will ride on her back for a few days.