Tag Archives: lepidoptera

Serengeti Insects (and yoga!)

Dear All

Hello – many thanks for the kind comments. I am just back in Kenya after 10 amazing days in the Grumeti Reserve in Serengeti. I was training guides and exploring the insect life in the area with them…

Thanks to the rains, the Serengeti Plains were a sea of rippling green-and-gold, with the grass as high as an elephant’s eye (literally!)…

Beautiful grass after the rains

Beautiful grass after the rains

We spent time learning some of the common butterflies, like this striking Round-winged Orange tip. There were lots of butterflies around thanks to the lovely rains that had brought the Gutenbergia into flower. Here are just a few of the hundreds that we saw visiting the purple flowers…

Round-winged Orange Tip Butterfly

Round-winged Orange Tip Butterfly

African Golden Arab Butterfly

African Golden Arab Butterfly

One of the most interesting butterflies that we saw was a small, shy creature who darted about like a nervous spirit. She finally settled down and I managed to snap this picture of this very intriguing butterfly, a type of Skipper called the Netted Sylph…

The enigmatic and aptly-named Netted Sylph

The enigmatic and aptly-named Netted Sylph

The gorgeous Zebra Butterfly

The gorgeous Zebra Butterfly

Edward meets a Female African Mocker Swallowtail

Edward meets a Female African Mocker Swallowtail

We spent time watching many different kinds of insects. Here are a few of those who were both friendly and fascinating:

Mishi meets a Blister Beetle - note the bright warning colours!

Mishi meets a Blister Beetle - note the bright warning colours!

We also found this lovely Armoured Ground Cricket who was riding along in the car with us. Despite their formidable appearance, they are gentle creatures and harmless to humans…

Agnes meets the Armoured Ground Cricket

Agnes meets the Armoured Ground Cricket

We ended some of the long field days with a yoga session on the plains…

Yoga after a long day of looking at bugs...

Yoga after a long day of looking at bugs...

More from the world of bugs soon!

Happy little Buffs…

Hello!

 

Sorry for not posting more often – have been really busy chasing after bugs now that the rains have started and they are popping out all over the place!

 

Many, many thanks to everyone for their kind comments on the blog post ‘Ants in the dust’. I will try and post a link to the BBC piece on it when I can figure out the technical side of it today or tomorrow.

 

A couple of days ago in a tiny forest fragment near Nairobi I spotted these little beauties whirling about some buds. From a distance they looked like tiny little orange flames dancing in the dappled light. On taking a closer look I saw that they were tiny orange and brown lycaenid butterflies.

 

 baliochila-lr2.jpg

 

 

 

Known as ‘Buffs’, these tiny jewels are part of a large and diverse group of butterflies in the family Lycaenidae. This species is Baliochila fragilis – an apt name for their delicate build. The caterpillars of these butterflies feed on lichens, often high up in the forest trees, so it was interesting to find them hovering about near the ground.

 

Looking closely at the butterflies perching on the buds of the Chlorophytum, I noticed that there were a lot of ants running up and down the buds too. And then I noticed that the butterflies had their tiny proboscis unfurled and were feeding from in between the young buds. These buds secrete extra-floral nectar which is intended to attract ants that then patrol the buds and protect them from would-be nibblers of the insect-kind. However, as the butterflies posed no threat the flowers, the ants seemed to tolerate them.

 

baliochila-lr1.jpg 

 

 

In fact, the butterflies were so relaxed that quite a few of the males were courting the females. The pair in the video clip below show the typical interaction. The male sidles up to the female. She rejects him with a flick of her wings and moves on trying to keep feeding. He follows her and flicks his own wings at her trying to win her over… She rejects him and keeps on moving… the cycle is repeated over and over again. I guess eventually some of the most perseverant males win one of the females over!

 

[kml_flashembed movie=”http://www.youtube.com/v/Az_bNs8cewg” width=”425″ height=”350″ wmode=”transparent” /]

 

 

More from the wonderful world of bugs soon!

 

More butterfly eyes!

Dear AllSorry for not posting more – have been travelling – lots to share, just working on getting it all sorted. In the mean time here are some more close-ups of butterfly eyes – enjoy – the Emperor Butterflies below are particularly striking! The first one is a close-up of the Green-Veined Emperor, and the second is of a Black-and-White Charaxes. These are both fast-flying denizens that sweep through the forest canopy at high speeds and rarely venture down close to us mere mortals unless drawn by the scent of some rotting fruit or something even more appetizing like carrion!charaxes_candiope-lr11.jpgcharaxes_brutus-lr11.jpgcharaxes_brutus-lr2.jpg

Butterfly eyes…

Dear All, thanks for your kind comments about the Butterflion. If you are in Nairobi please go and visit him at the Sarit Centre outside the Text Book Centre. Here are some close-up pictures of butterflies that I took over the last couple of days. The pictures show their amazing compound eyes and mouthparts – which consist of a long tubular proboscis. More soon – enjoy the weekend!calotropis-eyes-lr1.jpgdardanus-close-uplr2.jpgdardanus-close-uplr1.jpgjunonia-close-uplr1.jpg