YELLOW PANSY

It was a very travel-worn Yellow Pansy (Junonia hierta) that landed at my feet in the middle of the drought-stricken veld the other day.

These attractive butterflies occur over much of South Africa in grasslands and scrub as well as in gardens, where they tend to fly low and rather fast. Judging by the tattered wings of this specimen, I am surprised it could still fly at all! Their habit of returning to more or less the same spot meant that, having spotted it fluttering about, I could wait – fairly patiently – until it returned for a photograph.

I am fascinated by the naming of species and in http://www.dispar.org/reference.php?id=14 discovered that the Juno part of the scientific name comes from the Roman goddess, Juno, who possessed a chariot drawn by peacocks.

These birds were sacred to her. For those interested in Roman mythology, she was the wife of Jupiter and was the goddess of marriage and childbirth. Her son was Mars, the god of war. You can read more about her in https://www.ancient.eu/Juno/.

Back to the butterfly, the wing patterns of which resemble a pansy – hence the common name. You cannot miss seeing these butterflies, which fortuitously often settle on the ground with their wings open. This one still looks beautiful despite its tattered condition.

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ALOE POLLINATORS

Several aloes are still blooming in different parts of the country as the winter stretches out. Their bright colours attract a variety of pollinators, of which these are only a few:

This female Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa caffra) is an efficient pollinator that visits the flowers for nectar and pollen. The males are completely covered in yellow hairs.

The silhouette of the sunbird below belongs to a Greater Double-collared Sunbird. I only know because I saw it beforehand.

Bees and hoverflies play a role in pollinating the aloes too.

One can tell how successful the season’s pollination has been by the swollen fruits that appear later.

NOTE: Click on a photograph for a larger view.

MOTH V

As you can tell, we have been visited by a variety of moths lately. We are heading towards a much colder spell of weather, so this will be the last moth that I will be showing you for a while:

The wings of this one looks as though it has been decorated with a silky fringe. These are actually fine hairs or a projection of scales that is known as the cilia.

MOTH II

It is a pity about the fluff on the floor, nonetheless, the patch of colour on this moth is intriguing – as is the ‘woolly’ head, which makes me think of a busby hat!

SPIDER-HUNTING WASP

Three or four spider-hunting wasps (belonging to the family Pompilidae) have been daily tea-time companions for a couple of weeks. They have been difficult to photograph as they hover above or go in and out of the potted plants on the patio. I have at last captured one on a Cape Honeysuckle (Tecoma capensis) and am showing off its brilliant colours as highlighted by the sun in these three photographs:

NOTE: Click on a photograph should you wish to see a larger view.