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Archive for the ‘SABCA’ Category

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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Made a quick trip to Du Toit’s Kloof Pass last week in pursuit of Holmes’ Skolly Thestor holmesi. Special thanks to Andrew for the directions! I was towards the end of their flight season though Andrew has found worn specimens in mid-February. I found a total of 6 specimens in 90 minutes – some were very worn though some were quite fresh. They were reasonably cooperative for photos though no open wing shots (I never even saw one open its wings except to fly).

Nice fresh specimen.

A slightly worn specimen – see the scales missing on the hind wing.

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Last Tuesday I made another trip to Shaw’s Pass. This time I went with a friend, Pat. We had been trying to coordinate a trip for some time & finally found a day with good weather that suited us both. I had heard that a subspecies of the Boland Skolly Thestor protumnus aridus was flying and I wanted to get some photos. The day started a bit cloudy but the sun burned through and I had good success:

Once again there were Aranda Coppers Aloides aranda present:

These butterflies are becoming one of my favourites; this specimen had the most awesome coloration:

Once again there were Fynbos Blues Tarucus thespis present. These butterflies are ubiquitous and are seen on just about every single trip in the Western Cape. Here is a male:

There were also some flowers present:

We then headed to Hermanus in pursuit of some Lepidochrysops species. We were a little late however and I only found two worn specimens of the Monkey Blue Lepidochrysops methymna:

A spot just south of Kleinmond was the final stop for the day. I did see one species of Lepidochrysops – I think it was the Southern Blue Lepidochrysops australis but I messed up my camera settings and have no pics – ditto the unidentified species of Brown I saw. I did get some pics of the common and very beautiful Burnished Opal Chrysoritis chrysaor:

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Last Friday I went to Silvermine in the Table Mountain NP with Andrew in search of the Peninsula Skolly Thestor yildizae. This butterfly is found only on the mountains of the Cape Peninsula – it is the Cape Peninsula’s only endemic butterfly. Like all Skollys, the adults of this butterfly do not feed, and their larvae are associated with ants.

The butterflies were out and very active:

There were a few other butterflies about including the beautiful Peninsula Blue Lepidochrysops oreas, which was unfortunately quite uncooperative when it came to photography. This Burnished Copper Chrysoritis chrysaor was beautifully fresh and did cooperate quite nicely:

We moved on to a second spot where we found more Peninsula Blues Lepidochrysops oreas flying and I managed to get photographs of one individual – only closed wing shots though:

We then headed to Red Hill for a quick look but did not have great success. There were a few butterflies present including  Western Hillside Browns Stygionympha vigilans:

And Fynbos Blues Tarucus thespis:

There were a few other interesting insects around, including this Foam Grasshopper nymph:

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A couple of weeks back I travelled up the Gydo Pass near Ceres in search of a few special butterflies. I had directions to a spot on a farm called Die Kloof. After getting permission from the owners I set off. It was pretty rugged territory and a bit off a hike from where I parked the car at a dam (see below) near the end of the orchards:

I was looking for three species: Lepidochrysops quickelbergi and Lepisochrysops gydoae– both beautiful blues, Chrysoritis adonis, a lovely opal, and Thestor vansoni, a Skolly. As it turns out, I found none of these–which just means I get to make another trip!

I did find however find and photograph three species, one of which was new to me.

Duke’s Blue Lepidochrysops dukei (a lifer).

Rock Skolly Thestor petra a species which I had seen previously at Matroosberg.

Cupreous Blue Eichchrysops messapus female ovipositing on Thesium sp.

There were other insects and plants around to keep things interesting:

Queen Protea Protea magnifica on which I found this Green Protea Beetle Trichostetha fascularis:

Finally, I managed to photograph this dragonfly which has been submitted to the recently (September 2010) started Odonata of Southern Africa Virtual Museum.

It’s not a great photograph but hopefully it will allow an identification & therefore add to the Odonata data-set.

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The day after the Gifberg trip, on the way home, we stopped at the West Coast National Park. We visited two sites, with our first stop being the Seeburg Lookout.

Bampton’s Opal Chrysoritis  thysbe bamptoni

Pan opal Chrysoritis pan


Marguerite’s  Copper Aloides margaretae

Silver Arrowhead Phasis thero


Sand-dune Widow Tarsocera cassina


Cape Black-eye Leptomyrina lara

There was plenty of other insect life around also, including these fantastic dung beetles:

Green Grooved Dung Beetle Scarabaeus rugosus

Male and female pairs work together to form balls of dung which are rolled away and buried as a source of food for their larvae.

A well camouflaged grasshopper.

Bladder grasshopper – Bullacris sp.

The West Coast National Park is well known for its flowers:

Angulate Tortoises Chersina angulata are common:

We then moved on to a second spot by the side of the road. Again, butterflies were plentiful:

Donkey Daisy Copper Chrysoritis zonarius

Donkey Daisy Copper Chrysoritis zonarius egg laid on Chrysanthemoides incana

Feltham’s Opal Chrysoritis felthami


Sand-dune Opal Chrysoritis pyroeis pyroeis


Unidentified Spialia – possibly Spialia nanus.

A really interesting plant – I think its an Euphorbia sp. but have as yet, been unable to identify it.

Typical West Coast territory with Andrew chasing butterflies.

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A few weeks back I headed up to Gifberg (which translates as “Poison Mountain”) in search of a few specials. The first butterfly we saw was a rather battered Spring Widow Tarsocera cassus:

There were a lot of these Tulbagh Sylphs Tsitana tulbagha flying:

Mouse Blues Lepidochrysops puncticilia were also on the wing:

It was however another Lepidochrysops, Tite’s Blue Lepidochrysops titei that was a particular target. we did find some specimens though they were not particularly cooperative when it came to photography:

That was my best shot, you can just see a hint of the beautiful blue upper wing surface. Protea Scarlets Capys alphaeus were also present. They are spectacular from above:

but I like the side view (showing the ventral surface) even better:

These are protea specialists, laying their eggs on protea buds. Upon hatching, the larvae then tunnel into the protea bud and spend their entire life-cycle including pupation inside the bloom. The newly hatched adult butterflies emerge from the larval tunnel and begin the cycle again. These were utilizing the blooms of the Waboom Protea nitida, and a number of buds with larval tunnels were found.

Protea Emperors Charaxes pelias were also present – though contrary to their name, their life-cycle has nothing to do with proteas! Rather their larvae feed on a number of plants including Rafnia sp., and Colpoon compressum. It would be better named the Fynbos Emperor or the Southern Emperor! These specimens were at the Northern edge of their range.

We found some Aloides – probably Van Son’s Copper Aloides vansoni:

As well as some Chrysoritis — including another target species Shoeman’s Opal Chrysoritis uranus schoemani (a subspecies of the Uranus Opal confined to the Gifberg and Koebee Mountains). Unfortunately I didn’t get pictures of the species (Andrew saw and netted the only specimen sighted.). Here however, is the Pan Opal Chrysoritis pan which was common:

We found specimens of one of my favourite butterflies the Boland Rocksitter Durbaniopsis saga:

As well as common butterflies like the Long-tailed Blue Lampides boeticus (this is a female):

And the Fynbos Blue Tarucus thespis:

There were also lots of other insects like this interesting beetle:

And some beautiful flowers:

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