Winter Gardening in South Africa: Part 2
My next photos show some of the invertebrates attracted to my winter flowers. The first is a Carpenter Bee, Xylocopa caffra, visiting a flower of a Tuft-bush, Lopholaena coriifolia. These big, chunky bees are sometimes mistaken for beetles. They excavate their nests in Aloe stems, tree branches or timber used in and around houses. They are solitary bees and their nests small.
The next photo shows a Hoverfly, Eristalinus taeniops, visiting the cyathia (compound flowers) of an Euphorbia mauritanica. This and a few other hoverfly species closely resemble bees. They gain protection from this, although they cannot sting. Like bees, they visit flowers for nectar. They are not pests at all. I haven't seen bees visiting these Euphorbia flowers, which is good, since honey made with Euphorbia nectar burns people's mouths and throats!
The last photo shows a Blue Pansy, Precis oenone, sometimes placed in the genus Junonia. It is perched on flowers of the Beestebal. This beautiful little butterfly, with a wingspan reaching 45mm/1.8", is common over the eastern half of South Africa, living in bushveld and woodland. Its larvae feed on members of the Acanthus family.