Tag Archive: Steve Woodhall

Burnished Opals – Chrysoritis chrysaor

Here is a small collection of some Burnished Opals taken in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. They were a taken with a Canon 7D camera with a Tamron 90mm VC lens. These are some of the most stunning butterflies in my humble opinion and believe me, they are not easy to shoot with a camera!

Burnished Opal - Chrysoritis chrysaor

The males of this species grow to size between 22mm and 27mm whilst the female have a slightly wider range of between 23mm and 30mm.

Burnished Opal - Chrysoritis chrysaor

The distribution of the Chrysoritis chrysaor is widespread in South Africa, but mainly in the east. It is also found in fynbos up the west coast of the Western Cape, in Nama Karoo or Western Cape and Eastern Cape, in the valley bushveld near Port Alfred, Kwazulu Natal, Free State, South Mpumalanga and Gauteng.

Burnished Opal - Chrysoritis chrysaor

Burnished Opal’s flight period is all year round at the coast, but peaks in November and February at high altitudes.

Burnished Opal - Chrysoritis chrysaor

It’s habitats include the following; Coasts, flatlands, mountains, hillsides and rocky slopes. Their larval foodplants include; Tylecondon paniculatus, Cotyledon orbiculata, Zygophyllum sessilifolium and Zygophyllum retrofractum, Acacia karroo and Rhus spp. The larvae is associated with Crematorgaster nr liengmei ants.

References: Steve Woodhalls book “Field Guide to Butterflies of South Africa

Chrysoritis chrysaor -- Burnished opal -  Besembos Goue-opaal

Garden Inspector or Commodore – Precis archesia archesia

The Garden Inspector or the Garden Commodore is from the genus Precis. This genus consists of robust, medium-sized and brightly coloured nymphalines. These are similar to Junonia (the Pansies), but they don’t have eye spots and great difference in colour and markings of the wet season form and dry season form. Their flight is fast and agile; often found sitting on the ground opening and closing their wings. They are fond of flowers.

Eggs are laid on Lamiaceae ( The mints, taxonomically known as Lamiaceae or Labiatae, are a family of flowering plants ), are bulb shaped, green to yellow, with 10-16 prominent glassy longitudinal ribs and sometimes 25-40 cross ridges.

Garden Inspector or Commodore - Precis archesia archesia

 

The wingspan of the male ranges from 45-50mm and the females range is from 50-60mm. They look pretty similar, but the female’s wings are rounder. The dry season form colours of Precis archesia archesia are brown , maroon and blue and the wet season form colours are brown with cream to buff postdiscal bands.
Garden Inspector or Commodore - Precis archesia archesia

 

The distribution: Savanna, grassland and forests from Western Cape (knysna area) to the Eastern Cape and up to Kwazulu-Natal, Free State, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and NW Provinces.

Garden Inspector or Commodore - Precis archesia archesia

 

Habitat: Forest Edges, parks and gardens, hill tops, hillsides, rocky slopes and gullies.
Flight period: All year round
Food Plant: Plectranthus spp. ( a genus of warm-climate plants occurring largely in the southern hemisphere, in sub-Saharan Africa, Madagascar, India and the Indonesian archipelago down to Australia and some Pacific Islands )

Garden Inspector or Commodore - Precis archesia archesia

 

These photos were taken at the van Stadens Flower Reserve outside Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape of South Africa.

Most of this information was supplied from Steve Woodhalls book “Field Guide to Butterflies of South Africa

 

 

The Pearl Emperor – Charaxes varanes varanes

From the Genus, Charaxes – Emperors, comes this absolutely stunning Pearl Emperor.  The Charaxes species are generally brightly colours in shades of orange and red or iridescent blue. They are aggressive and territorial and will chase or push other butterflies away from food sources. The larva are usually green. The pupae are also green, sometimes with white stripes or streaks, rounded with more or less pointed head.
The Pearl Emperor, however, has orange and pearly-white wings and very conspicuous against foliage. The underside colour us quite variable, often golden brown, but can look like the picture below with almost a greenish-brown-silver look to it. The wings’ veins are also green in colour. These are relatively big butterflys with males from around 65mm – 70mm and females from 70mm – 90mm.
The distribution of the Pearl Emperor is Eastern Cape from Mossel Bay to Kwazulu Natal and Mpumalanga, Limpopo and North West provinces.
Their habitats include: forest edges, flatlands and the coast. They fly all year round in warmer areas with a week peak in September to November and a stronger peak from January to June.
Their larval foodplant consist of: Allophylus africanusAllophylus dregeanusAllophylus natalensis and also Cardiospermum halicacabum. This shot was taken at “The Island” reserve, near Seaview Lion Park, outside Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Most of this information was supplied from Steve Woodhalls book “Field Guide to Butterflies of South Africa“.

Pearl Emperor - Charaxes varanes varanes

A shot with the wings open of the same butterfly.

Pearl Emperor - Charaxes varanes varanes

African Grass Blue – Zizeeria knysna knysna

This little African Grass Blue, Zizeeria knysna knysna, was shot in one of the suburbs close to where I live in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.  Another tricky little butterfly to photography as it is really skittish. It is a common, widespread butterfly, which one will find throughout South Africa. The Zizeeria knysna knysna is also known as the Sooty Blue.  It habitats gardens, parks and fields, flatlands, wetlands, forest edges, mountains and hillsides. They fly all year round, but peak from October to December and February to April. Their larval foods include Tribulus terrestris (devil’s thorn), Amaranthus deflexus and Amaranthus viridis, Oxalis corniculata (Yellow Wood Sorrel) and  Medicago saltiva (Lucerne plant). Most of this information was supplied from Steve Woodhalls book “Field Guide to Butterflies of South Africa“.

African grass blue

Reflecting Tussock Moth

This is a Red Dotted Euproctis MothEuproctis rufopunctata. Its part of the Lymantriidae family which consists of the Tussock moths. The adult moths of this family do not feed and tend to be very hairy. They also give off urticating hairs – not good for asthma sufferers! The larvae are also hairy, often with hairs packed in tufts, and in many species the hairs break off very easily and are extremely irritating to the skin (especially members of the genus Euproctis; Schaefer, 1989). This highly effective defence serves the moth throughout its life cycle as the hairs are incorporated into the cocoon, from where they are collected and stored by the emerging adult female at the tip of the abdomen and used to camouflage and protect the eggs as they are laid. Thanks to Steve Woodhall for the ID. Look out for his book: “Field Guide to Butterflies of South Africa

Reflecting Tussock Moth

Common Blue Butterfly

The Common Blue, also known as Leptotes pirithous pirithous, are small butterflies in the Genus Leptotes. They are from the family Lycaenidae. Other names for this butterfly are; Lang’s Short-tailed Blue and Common Zebra Blue. The wingspan is 21 to 29 mm for males and 24 to 30 mm for females. Leptotes is part of a group of 4 blues namely: The Common Blue, Short toothed Blue, Jeannel’s Blue and Babault’s Blue. They are impossible to tell apart and genital dissection is the only reliable method of doing so. Blues are attracted to wet mud with other blues and to the blue flowers of the Plumbago auriculata plant.
Most of this information was supplied from Steve Woodhalls book
Field Guide to Butterflies of South Africa

Common Blue Butterfly

Amazing Looking Caterpillar

On a trip to the van Stadens Flower Reserve just outside Port Elizabeth, we came across an area covered with Watsonia flowers. These watsonias were covered with these beautiful colorful caterpillars. The whole problem with caterpillars, is when it comes to identifying them. There are so many varieties of these, that identifying them is really quite a daunting task! Since the posting of this picture, the caterpillar has been identified as a Pine Tree Emperor Moth (Imbrasia cytheraea). The caterpillar was identified by Stephen Woodhall, author of the book “Field Guide to Butterflies of South Africa

Pine Tree Emperor Moth Caterpillar