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Isa’s nature journal and musings.

Journey Through South Africa

Time to start posting on this blog!
I was in South Africa during the first half of May and so here is a peek into my South Africa nature encounters.
These photos are from a hike near Cape Town, South Africa. We hiked just east of Cape Town, in Stellenbosch. It was a lovely 5 hour circuit that we traveled in the afternoon on Mother’s Day, May 12th, 2019.

Stunning orange roach on the side of the trail in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Shout out to Ceci for finding it!

Stunning orange roach on the side of the trail in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Shout out to Ceci for finding it!

The orange cockroach looked so beautiful against beside the orange lichens (?) in Stellenbosch, South Africa!

The orange cockroach looked so beautiful against beside the orange lichens (?) in Stellenbosch, South Africa!

We also found this one between rocks to the side of the trail in Stellenbosch, South Africa. (in situ)

We also found this one between rocks to the side of the trail in Stellenbosch, South Africa. (in situ)

Such a captivating design on this plant skeleton.

Such a captivating design on this plant skeleton.

My hiking buddies on the trail in the Fynbos of Stellenbosch, South Africa.

My hiking buddies on the trail in the Fynbos of Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Mating grasshoppers on the side of the Stellenbosch trail. There were two other grasshopper couples right next to these two!

Mating grasshoppers on the side of the Stellenbosch trail. There were two other grasshopper couples right next to these two!

Stay tuned! I’ll post more soon. In the meantime, please share any questions or remarks in the comments below! :D

Puddling Pals

Betancourt Borneo Puddling single

We all know that butterflies and moths (Order: Lepidoptera) visit flowers for food. However, did you know that there are minerals that butterflies and moths can only obtain from sources such as animal sweat, tears, fecal matter, and mud puddles? This behavior is called puddling and it is not uncommon to find many butterflies puddling together.

Here are photos from my first encounter with puddling butterflies! The main species that was puddling, the Common Blue Bottle (Graphium sarpedon) is not at all shy. I lucked out. I was able to get up close with my camera without scaring them away. Additionally, clouds softened the sunlight. These were ideal insect photoshoot conditions. 

The butterflies filter large quantities of liquid through their bodies as they puddle. Every several minutes they unload the water waste with a sudden squirt out the rear to make space to draw up more liquid to keep the mining process going (See photo below). The water is recycled. It goes back into the substrate and picks up more minerals. Whooosh! It goes back up through the proboscis and into the butterfly. The nutrients are filtered out of the water and absorbed by the butterfly.

Once a puddling area dries up the party is over. Without moisture, the butterflies can no longer access the nutrients with their proboscis. Imagine trying to eat a chocolate bar with a straw. Liquify it. Now drinking it up with a straw is no problem. This is why the water recycling optimizes nutrient acquisition. It lengthens the time that the resource is available to the butterflies. Bon appetite, butterflies!

Puddling Pals
Before and...

Before and...

... a moment later. The butterfly squirts out water to make room for the intake of more.

... a moment later. The butterfly squirts out water to make room for the intake of more.

Overhead View Puddling