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Archive for October, 2011

Last Sunday Andrew & I took our families for a picnic. We did however have an ulterior motive–chasing butterflies. We stopped at Kogelberg to hunt for the coastal subspecies of the Giant Copper Aloeides pallida littoralis. After a slow start in sunny but windy conditions we were quite successful. These butterflies are among the largest of the South African Copper group and like many copper species are quite variable in colour–ranging from dull brown to bright magenta.

Freshly hatched female Giant Copper Aloeides pallida littoralis – red form.

Giant Copper Aloeides pallida littoralis – brown form.

There were a few other common butterflies present:

Cupreous Blue Eichchrysops messapus

We then visited a spot further along the coast just before Kleinmond. Only present were common butterflies:

Aranda Copper Aloeides aranda – brown form

Dickson’s Geranium Bronze Cacyreus dicksoni

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Recently I accompanied a friend to du Toit’s Kloof Pass. I had been there back in January in pursuit of Holmes’ Skolly Thestor holmesi. It is too early for that butterfly and this time we were hunting a scarce butterfly called Irene’s Opal Chrysoritis irene.

Our first animal sighting was something completely unexpected, a Cape Grass Lizard Chamaesaura anguina. This was a herpetological lifer for me. These lizards are not easily seen as they usually inhabit montane grasslands where their serpentine body, reduced limbs, and rough, keeled scales, help them “swim” through thick grass.

Moving up the mountain we encountered several species of butterfly, there were plenty of common species like Painted Ladies (Vanessa cardui), Citrus Swallowtail (Demodocus papilio), and Western Hillside Browns (Stygionympha vigilans).

Climbing to the top of the hill we encountered Penninsula Blues Lepidochrysops oreas junae:

At the base of the cliff face we then encountered our target species, Irene’s Opal Chrysoritis irene. I was able to get shots of both a male and a female:

There were many beautiful flowers in bloom, including this Beautiful Gladiolus Gladiolus pulcherrimus:

There were plenty of other insect life too, many beetles including this Common Metallic Longhorn Beetle Promeces longipes:

and this spectacularly coloured Slug Moth caterpillar (Family Limacodidae) found by Andrew:

We then moved to a lower elevation and found more species. Freshly hatched were lots of the common but beautifully photogenic Aranda Coppers Aloides aranda:

I also photographed these Mouse Blues Lepidochrysops puncticilia:

This female is ovipositing.

All in all a fantastic day of chasing butterflies in the beautiful Cape mountains.

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