Readers’ wildlife photos

August 5, 2023 • 8:15 am

We’re down to two or three sets of photos, so things are getting dire. If you have good wildlife photos, send them in now (but not between the 11th and 21st, when I’ll be gone). Thanks.

Today Tony Eales, back from his African safari, now sends us photos of African bugs. His captions are indented, and you can enlarge his photos by clicking on them.

As I said in an earlier post, there were not many bugs, June being well into winter in southern Africa. There were, however, still bugs and creepy crawlies of different kinds. Here are a few of them. Unfortunately I don’t really know much about most of these species but I’m reaching out to various places to learn more.

Found this cool grasshopper nymph in Moremi Game Reserve:  Abisares viridipennis:

At the same camp I found this lantern fly, probably Druentia sp.:

I found this strange bark mantis in Chobe. It barely has the classic raptorial forelegs that are usual for mantises. Amorphoscelis sp.:

At the same camp we found this elongated assassin bug, Rhaphidosoma sp.:

This mantis, while more classically armed, was very weirdly adorned to help it blend into the background. Sibylla pretiosa Cryptic Mantis:

We saw the evidence of a very unusual moth that could really only live in an area with thousands of grazing mammals like southern Africa. Ceratophaga vastella, the Horn Moth. Unlike the majority of moth larvae, these feed on mammal horns rather than plants. [JAC: the marks on the horns are caused by larvae; as Tony explained, “You can see the worm-like tunnels On the surface of the horn and empty pupal cases sticking out of the horn”]:

Here’s one of the major shapers of the landscape, Macrotermes sp. I don’t know if the species I photographed here are the same ones that are responsible for the large mounds that we observed, especially in the Okavango, but they are in the same genus. These termites are unusual in they are fungus farmers rather than eating the plant material directly:

Some of the more impressive insects I encountered were hymenopterans. Here is a Slender Tree Ant in the Tetraponera natalensis species complex:

Stingless bees Meliponula bocandei, much larger than the Australian and Southeast Asian species I’ve encountered:

Paltothyreus tarsatus, the large African Stink Ant:

A large velvet ant, Stenomutilla sp.:

And of course, I found a wide variety of my favourite group, arachnids. Including my very first member of the Solifuges, or Sun Spiders. Apparently this family (Solpuginae) of Sun Spiders is called Common Romans. I’m not sure what that is about.

I also found an Orange-lesser Thicktailed Scorpion (Uroplectes planimanus):

And these spiders were absolutely everywhere after dark. I was confused as by size and habit they seemed so much like the huntsmans (Sparassids) that I know from home, that I assumed that’s what they were. But in fact they were what are known as Flatties or Wall Crab Spiders (Selenopidae). I should have noticed the different eye arrangement. This one is probably Selenops sp.:

But my favourite spider was this impressive Wandering Spider (Ctenidae). As yet, I have no ideas about the genus but I’m asking a few knowledgeable folk about it:

12 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Thank you so much for the photos of creatures I would never see otherwise. I especially enjoyed the spiders, but the horn moth is intriguing.

  2. For it being Winter in southern Africa, you still succeeded in capturing a lot of brilliant specimens. Thanks for more of your wonderful African photos!

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