For the identification of insects and other fauna and flora of South Africa: please click on the following links:
Insects and related species: Antlions - Ants - Bees - Beetles - Bugs - Butterflies, Moths and Caterpillars - Centipedes and Millipedes - Cockroaches - Crickets - Dragonflies and Damselflies - Grasshoppers and Katydids - Mantis - Stick Insects - Ticks and Mites - Wasps - Woodlice
Plants, Trees, Flowers: (Note: Unless plants fall into a specific species such as Cacti, they have been classified by their flower colour to make them easier to find) Bonsai - Cacti, Succulents, Aloes, Euplorbia - Ferns and Cycads - Flowers - Fungi, Lichen and Moss - Grass - Trees
Animals, Birds, Reptiles etc.: Animals, Birds, Fish and Crabs - Frogs - Lizards - Scorpions - Snails and Slugs - Snakes - Spiders - Tortoise, Turtles and Terrapins - Whipscorpions
Other photography: Aeroplanes - Cars and Bikes - Travel - Sunrise - Water drops/falls - Sudwala and Sterkfontein Caves etc.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

How pineapples grow

The main producing areas of pineapples in South Africa are Northern KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape and, on a smaller scale, the Northern Province. It is one of the most important subtropical crops cultivated in the country.

As it is indigenous to the tropics, the crop requires areas where the climate is warm, humid and free from extreme temperatures (25 °C being optimal). These areas have a great potential for pineapple production.
There are 5 major pineapple groups grown throughout the world. Two of these, Cayenne and Queen, are widely cultivated in South Africa.

Planting is done by hand, with or without the aid of a planting machine. Use of the latter results in uniform, neat plantations.
Harvesting should be done 7 to 14 days after yellowing. It is labour intensive because workers walk in the space between ridges to pick the fruit by hand, loading it into baskets, or onto a boom harvester.

After harvesting the crowns are broken off (not twisted) and left on top of the plants in the field or are placed in bags to be collected at a later date for planting.
Pineapples are extremely easy to grow if you live in a warm climate. Break off the top and ensure the bottom is immersed in the water of a glass bottle. Soon shoots like this will start to sprout. When they fill the jar, take it out and plant it in the garden. The trick is not to let them dry out while still in the bottle.

This is a red pineapple Ananas bracteatus and actually belongs to the Bromeliaceae (Bromelaid) family.
It gets these beautiful red pineapples on it but they are not edible.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A trip to the Eastern Transvaal

The Panorama, which abounds with breathtaking views from natural wonders along the eastern slopes of the escarpment. There is God's Window and the world's third largest canyon and biggest green canyon, the Blyde River Canyon. There are also the astonishing Bourke's Luck Potholes and three rondawels. The towns of Lydenburg and White River are gateways to the route, which takes visitors through the quaint towns of Pilgrim's Rest, a living museum dating back to the hey days of the gold rush, as well as Sabie, Graskop, Ohrigstad and Hazyview. Nature enthusiasts will discover cascading water falls while adrenaline junkies can get their next rush by bungee jumping, white water rafting or going on rigorous 4x4 trails. More gentler pursuits include hot air ballooning, walking trails and gold panning. Much of the pine forests which abound in the area between Sabie and Graskop was destroyed by fires in early August. Four weeks later, some fires are still burning and the sky is hazy with smoke. This area is a hikers paradise.

Starting off the trip from Pretoria, it is very flat farming country which we call the Highveld.
After 5 hours drive this gives way to slightly more hilly sections and the mountains can be seen in the distance.
Once in the mountains, the scenery is breathtaking. This was taken at a place called God's Window and on a clear day, one can see as far as Mozambique.
Ninety percent of the area is covered in pine forests.
The mountain tops are nature reserves and are vast sub-tropical forests with many streams and waterfalls in the area.
Logging roads can be seen below, but the company is careful to hide most of the logging by leaving the front few rows of tree standing.
Way down below, there is a small stream wandering through and if you have the energy, you can hike down to it.
This is Pinnicle Rock but the tip of it fell down about 14-15 years ago.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Roses 2

Roses come in all the most beautiful colors of the rainbow....

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A few days at the sea - St Lucia, South Africa

It is a seven hour drive to St Lucia, but it started off great with this wonderful sunrise. It is not yet very hot here, so some places are still a bit misty.
St Lucia is a VERY small town (if you can call it that). It has a couple of shops and a few places to overnight. It is situated on an estuary and is mostly visited for fishing.
There are a lot of crocodiles and hippo around as it is the heart of a game area. St Lucia was proclaimed a world heritage site in 1999. Cyclone Demoina closed the estuary mouth in 1982, and although they have tried to dredge the sand for years, cannot get it open again.
Street vendors sell these beautful hand carved side tables.
Looking South.......
Looking North.......The weather was very overcast and cloudy so the seas were a bit rough, but I managed to get onto the beach to pick up a few seashells:

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Art of disguise - Part 9

Another master of disguise.....
The True Leaf Katydid (Tettigoniidae zabalius aridus) is so well hidden I almost walked past him.
They are very large, this specimen being about 4 inches (60mm) in body length.
They feed on leaves of trees and shrubs.

In defense, they kick with their spined hind legs.

Friday, July 1, 2011


Millipedes: Two sets of legs per segment. Feed on decomposing plant material.

Cenitpedes: One set of legs per segment. Active predators.

Millipedes here come in all colors. Red....
Black (The red below her is a lava which she was feeding in the hollow of this tree trunk)
and mating. LOL!!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Isn't he just the cutest? (Mantis)

We have many kind of mantis here and this is a baby of the Giant Mantis which gets to be about 5 inches in body length. The tail end eventually straightens out when it gets its first wings. It is a very common species and feeds mainly off caterpillars.
All mantids have large heads and compound eyes.
The female lays her eggs in cocoons like this which is mainly attached to branches. The cocoon is about 1 inch in length but there are hundreds of eggs in them.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Sterkfontein Caves - Part 6 Final

The caves form part of the Isaack Stegmann Nature Reserve and are owned by the University of the Witwatersrand.
They are open to the public from February to December each year, six days a week. Tours are conducted every half-hour.
Next to the caves is the Robert Broom site museum, housing exhibits of immensely ancient animal and bird life.
Bones and breccia in caves
Solution and roof collapses create entrances to the caves in the form of vertical shafts. Soil, rocks, bones and vegetation fell in from the surface – the animals and plants from which fossils formed did not actually live in the cave.
The bones which found their way into these shafts were often just fragments left by the activities of predators and scavengers around the shaft entrances. But sometimes – far less often – a whole animal would fall down a cavity to be fossilized in the infill. The famous australopithecine skeleton “Little Foot”, which was found deep inside a Sterkfontein grotto, is an example of this.
Over time, the material that fell into the shafts built up to form talus cones, which look like giant inverted ice-cream cones, on the cave floor. These formations were cemented by lime-charged water to form concrete-like breccia a type of rock. Bones within these talus cones were mineralized by calcium carbonate and stained with manganese and iron from the dolomite soil.
Sometimes floor collapses into lower caves or erosion by surface water disrupted the stratified layers, mixing deposits. This means that even if some deposits are deeper than others, they are not necessarily older than those nearer the surface.
The bulk of the Sterkfontein cave deposits were not disrupted in this way. The University of the Witwatersrand geologist Professor Tim Partridge classified the deposits from oldest to youngest as geological Members 1-6 from the Sterkfontein formation. The infills span a period from 4.2 million years ago to less than 200,000 years ago. The different infills have characteristic fossil and/or artifact (stone tool) content.