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

Friday, May 31, 2013

Blackheaded Heron

Found throughout SA in open grasslands and along the edges of inland waters.

A solitary bird when feeding, it will roost together with others in trees.

Eats frogs, fish, crabs, insects, rodents, small birds and reptiles.

Breeds all year round in warmer regions. Nest is made of a large platform of sticks lined with finer material.
Info: Robert’s Birds of Southern Africa

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Leaf-rolling Weevil (Parapoderus nigripennis)

Family Attelabidae
A small weevil about 2-8mm in length.

The female lays eggs in rolled-up leaves which then falls off the tree.

Adults feed on flower buds and leaves.
Info: Field Guide to South African Insects

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Natal Acraea (Acraea natalica)

Family Nymphalidae Heliconiinae
Large, with a wingspan of 55-65mm.
Foun d from Gauteng northwards and along the east coast.
 These butterflies not only have a difference between male and female, but also during the wet and dry seasons.

They prefer grassland areas.
Info: Field Guide to Butterflies of South Africa (Steve Woodhall)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Slender Mongoose

They appear and disapear so fast, that it is almost impossible to get pictures of them.

They can be identified by their distinct long thin tail with black tip which is curled upwards.

When it is overcast and cloudy, they stay indoors and are not seen.

The hair at the end of their tails can be up to 5cm longer than the last vertebrae.

As a defensive mechanism or when excited, they will raise the hairs on the body and tail making them look bigger.

Food consists mainly of insects, especially grasshoppers but they also eat mice, wild fruit and lizards.

Monday, May 27, 2013

My new sleeping companion

Meet my new sleeping companion. I must admit that he would not be my ideal choice as partners go but then I did not have much to say about the matter, he just crept in while I was sleeping and I found him here in the morning. LOL!! Anybody want to change places with me? LOL!!
 This is one of the largest Rain/Huntsman spiders (Family Sparassidae) we have, about as big as my open hand.
The females are much larger than the males and build a huge nest which is wrapped with leaves.
 This nest is about 40cm (16”) in length and at least 20cm (8”) in diameter.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Large Armoured Darkling Beetle (Anomalipus elephas)

Family Tenebrionidae
Large, with a body length of 28-38mm.
 Identified by the proton which is larger than their bodies.

Adults lay a single egg in a shallow hole.
 They are active by day feeding on plant litter.
Info: Field Guide to South African Insects

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Orange Dark Sac Spider (Copa flavoplumosa)

Family Corinnidae
 A beautiful, small spider which is ground-dwelling and make sac-like retreats in leaves.

Info: Spiders of the Kalahari (Ansie Dippenaar-Schoeman)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Fire Grid Burnet (Arniocera erythropyga)

Family Thyrididae
 The specimens I have found sofar have all been in the Kruger National Park area.
 They are small and very colourful and easily identified.
 No information is available on them.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Grass Stick Insect (Maransis trilineatus)

Family Bacillidae
Stick insects are attracted to lights at night and are often found clinging to the walls and doors in the morning.
Females average 22cm in length while the males are only half that.
Only the males have wings which they flare aggressively if threatened.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Double-banded Sandgrouse

 (male above, female below)
These are about the size of a dove and mostly seen as a pair, sometimes with chicks. Have been known to flock together in large numbers.
 A common bird of the Acacia, dry bushveld and savanna.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Shield Backed Bug (Graptocoris aulicus)

Family Scutelleridae
About 11mm in length and look similar to ladybirds/bugs but are not beetles (Coleoptera).

Info: Field Guide to South African Insects

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Dusky Acraea (Hyalites esebria)

Family Nymphalidae Heliconiinae
 They have a wingspan of 45-55mm and are only found in the eastern regions and along the coast up to PE.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

African Wildcat (Felis lybica griselda)

These stunning pictures were donated to my website by Andrea Meggiorin of Sidecar. Please visit his website for more fantastic pictures of his trip to Southern Africa. Both he and his wife Roberta are brilliant photographers and visit here every year. I am looking forward to seeing you both again in August my dear friends.
 Here is an interest extract from Mammals of the Southern African Subregion (Reay H.N. Smithers):

“When Linnaeus, in 1758, published his monumental work, the Systema Naturae, in which he arranged all the known mammals into a system to show their relationship to one another, he recognised that there were many common characteristics between cats and leopards, yet there wer e other obvious differences by which they were clearly separable. He created the genus Felis to accommodate both, separating them by the use of different specific names. Felis catus for the cat and Felis pardus for the leopard. He based his idea of the cat on a domestic cat from the town of Upsala, Sweden, described it and called it Felis catus. He probably never saw a European wild cat. Felis silvestris, or an African wild cat Felis lybica, as the former was described until some 19 years later by Schreber (1777) and the latter 22 years later by Forster (1780). As the European domestic cat most certainly had their origin from Felis lybica, which the Egyptians had domesticated from at least 3000 B.C., Linnaeus’ type was almost certainly a domestic strain descended from the African Wild Cat.”
 They are found throughout most of Africa in all kinds of habitats.

In areas where there are domestic cat, the Wild Cat will interbreed freely with them.

Wild Cats are very territorial and both male and female will mark its boundaries by urination.

Will lay in bushes or holes during the day and come out in the late afternoons and night to hunt.

Food consists mostly of rats and mice but included in their diet are also Solifgae (Sun spiders, Romans) insects, birds, reptiles, frogs and small mammals such as rabbits.

They are solitary except when mating.
Info: Mammals of the Southern African Subregion (Reay H.N. Smithers)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Peaceful Giant Ground Beetle (Tefflus)

Family Carabidae
Extremely large beetle of nearly 5cm in body length.
 They are found during the day hunting for insects.
 Found in the northern and north eastern regions.
Info: Field Guide to Insects of South Africa

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Common Mother of Pearl (Salamis parhassus)

Family Nymphalidae Nymphalinae
 These are large butterflies with the males having a wingspan of 7cm and the females 8cm.
 They are found in the north west and north west regions, along the east coast into the PE area.
 They are seen all through the year.
Info: Field Guide to Insects of South Africa

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mountain zebra

They differ from the Burchel’s Zebra in that their stripes do not go under their stomachs, they have a dewlap, their faces have a brown colouration, the stripes on the body are closer together, no shadow stripes on the rump, tips of ears are rounded and they are found only in the Cape area.
 In the early 1930’s only 11 stallions and 7 mares remained and they were moved to a special reserve in order to preserve the species. By 1980, the herd had grown to 215 animals and has vastly increased since then with some being trans-located to other reserves.
 Where they occur, they are found in large groups and are active mainly during the early morning and late afternoons, resting up during the day. These groups are made of a few stallions with their mares.
 They are mainly grass grazers but will eat leaves when food is short, especially in the winter.

Females produce their first foal at about 5 years of age after a gestation period on 1 year.
Info: Mammals of the Southern African Subregion (Reay H.N. Smithers)