camouflage

Spot the beast 24

Going through thousands of files, I found recent pictures I took while in Salta that I thought were lost forever. Among these, there are of course a few “beasts” and this one is one of them. Although it is a rather easy one, it may be a good training for the next one to come in a few days.

Here it is:

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Yes, a young grasshopper.

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Camouflage

As I mentioned earlier butterflies and moths are a prominent feature at our farm in Salta. As we are going through a long wet spell, I have taken the time to take pictures of some of the examples of camouflage that I have observed.

Rather than extending this over a few posts as I had done in the past, I decided to collect a few pictures for you to see five real finds that illustrate how Nature designed some of its creations to aid them in their survival. Have a look!

slick moth on leaves cropped

Grasshopper from far

Moth on bark cropped and small

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Moth on Paradise leaves

Several moths and butterflies come to our verandah light at night and I am taking pictures of them for a possible checklist. A number of them mimic leaves or tree bark. I then hatched the idea of collecting dry leaves from the garden and release a number of live moths on them hoping that they would stay on the leaves. Well, I can assure you that it was not easy!

However, after a few trials and frustrations I managed to get one shot for you to “admire” and spot the moths. To help you finding them I can tell you that there are more than one but less than fifteen![1]

Moths on leaves

I will reveal all creatures in the next post, hopefully this Saturday…

[1] I am learning to insert arrows to point them out.

Spot the Beast 2 – Revealed

Spot the beast 2 In

My wife found a “leaf” stuck on the fluorescent tube in the kitchen that flew off, flashing its orange-red under parts, when she tried to remove it.

I collected dry leaves from the garden and put the moth on them for the picture. I think it is a Red Tail moth (Hypopyra capensis). It is a rather common moth. Its larvae feed on Albizia spp. trees.

I am sure you all spotted it! In fact I realized, after I released it, that I had put it in the centre of the picture (not very clever!).

large moth

Spot the beast…

tsavo east lioness

No posts!!!

This is bad but, for the last two days, I needed to perform a lot of the tasks I had postponed because of the very posts I wrote! Shopping, buying water, repairing the borehole, make bookings for planned trips, banking, pruning the roses, etc. were among the time consuming jobs I needed to get done. I am pleased to inform you that, these over, I will come back in full swing very soon as I have a few contributions almost ready to be released, thanks to the valuable contribution of my Editor in Chief (my daughter!) that is working overtime…

In the interim, to keep you entertained -and while still on the issue of deception- I place this picture so that you can spot what is in there, preparing an ambush. Although I am sure that you will find it, I will be posting another one later that will leave you in no doubt.

Have fun…

 

AND THERE SHE IS…

It was enough for her to move a few centimetres to reveal herself. A warning to the bush walkers…

It was enough for her to move a few centimetres to reveal herself. A warning to the bush walkers…

Flowers and Spiders

The yellow spider holding the bee. The small flies can be seen in different areas of the flower and the small male spider with its fly prey is on the right of the flower.

The yellow spider holding the bee. The small flies can be seen in different areas of the flower and the small male spider with its fly prey is on the right of the flower.

Walking in the garden I saw a bee collecting pollen on a yellow flower. Nothing strange about that you may think as there are beehives all over the place. However, about four hours later, the bee was still there and it was there still the following day. Clearly, further investigation was required.

Upon closer inspection I could see that  the now dead bee was being held by a rather small yellow spider, mimicking perfectly the colour of the flower and now busy sucking the bee’s body juices. Interestingly, there were also tiny flies on the flower, attracted by the mini carnage and, on further observation, a very small brown spider had caught one and it was also feeding on it. When disturbed, it left the fly and moved to the underside of the flower. My hasty conclusion was that the small spider was a commensal, taking advantage of the flies attracted by the dead bee.

After a bit of research and reading, the picture got clearer. The larger spider was a female Yellow Crab Spider (Thomisus sp.). This is not a rare spider so I was a bit disappointed. Then the following question was: what would it do when the flower dies as there were no other similar flowers nearby? It seemed rather obvious that the survival chances of such a brightly coloured animal would not be too good! I learnt a bit more about this as well! Once the flower dries, the spider moves off and it is able to change colour again to camouflage itself to its new surroundings. The wonders of nature strike again!

Oh, by the way, the tiny spider sharing the flower was not a commensal but the male spider that, in view of the size difference, I am sure it does well to inhabit the other side of the flower. That is exactly what I would do…