MOTH I

This moth is no larger than my thumb nail – such intricate and delicate patterns it has!

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THE END OF THE FLIGHT

I suspect this is the remains of an African Monarch butterfly that simply could fly no further.

It looks pretty, nonetheless.

THE BEE’S KNEES

When we describe someone as being the bee’s knees we are paying them a compliment because this phrase means of ‘excellent quality’. Some sources point to the origin relating to the pollen collected by bees as they flit from flower to flower – and we all know the end result will be honey, which is good.

So, someone who is admired for having certain qualities or for having achieved something significant may be referred to as the bee’s knees. This is the meaning that has been in use since the 1920s.

Funnily enough, when the bee’s knees was first recorded in the late 18th century, it meant ‘something very small and insignificant’. Well, bees may be small but we have all been made aware of how very significant they are in our lives!

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

YOU WON’T BE SHARING MY PILLOW

I was about to switch off my bedside lamp when this creature alighted almost at eye-level. One of its antennae shot straight up as if looking for a suitable frequency, while the other curled down to do a sweep – a safety check?

Steady on! You haven’t been invited to share my pillow tonight!

Farewell!

Judging from its very long and thin antennae and large back legs, I assume my visitor is probably a member of the Katydid family.

FLIGHTLESS DUNG BEETLES (2)

I have mentioned before that the Addo Flightless Dung Beetle (Circellium bacchus) are among the largest in the world and that they play an important role in the ecosystem, helping to decompose the piles of dung deposited both by wild animals and stock animals. As there has been a little rain, this is a good time of the year to see them in the Addo Elephant National Park.

They criss-cross the roads in search of dung, causing some motorists to swerve to avoid them. One can also see them on the verges, as is the one in the photograph above. It is always interesting, however, to see them at work on freshly deposited elephant dung – this one really looks as if it is biting off more than it can chew, or that its eyes are bigger than its belly! Actually, these beetles can roll balls of dung fifty times heavier than they are.

Dung beetles are reliant on dung both for their own nutrition and that of their larvae. Quite understandably, they prefer fresh dung from which to form their brood balls. It has been interesting to read that studies have shown that these dung beetles use the Milky Way to navigate their way at night.

Not all visitors seem to be aware that these beetles are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN list and so do not heed the many signs warning them to give way to the dung beetles on the road. Factors such as agriculture and human interference have led to the vulnerability of these beetles – we need to watch out for them!

NOTE: Click on a photograph iif you wish to see a larger version.

LEPROUS GRASSHOPPER

I can remember having to annotate sketches of grasshoppers while in primary school, firstly identifying the head, thorax, abdomen, wings and legs. Later on the latter had to be annotated further to include the femur, tibia and tarsus. I loved the sound of the name tarsus.  These milkweed grasshoppers, Leprous grasshoppers (Phymateus leprosus), were very common and we often used to catch them – then quickly let them go as they exuded an unpleasant foam, doubtless for protection.

Seeing this one recently brought those primary school memories right back as if it were yesterday. What always fascinated me about these grasshoppers is the green saddle-shaped pronotum with two large bumps for it looks like serious armoured plating. Equally ferocious looking are the double rows of spines on the tibia. Even the knees of this grasshopper look armour plated!

Note: Click on the photograph if you wish a larger view.