We have been experiencing some interesting weather presently in the Selous, with a combination of strong winds, cool mornings, hot days and then even rain in July, very strange. However many little interesting critters around to add to the biodiversity list, and several butterflies been captured within the butterfly traps we have set up – not harmed just caught and photographed. The trap works with a bait mixture, which is bananas, beer and yeast, left to ferment and then used. Certain species in particular your Emperors (Charaxes) enjoy coming to these baits to feed, and when they fly away, do so upwards and cannot escape. A zip on the side allows us to then take them out, and see what we have. And to thus far we have caught approximately 12 different Emperor species, which are medium to large butterflies with beautiful colourations on the wing.
I have also been looking at Chafer beetles within the subfamily Cetoniinae, and with the help of some experts on these been able to start a list of those found, the big pro is they are also attracted to the traps. They fall into the Scarab beetle family, and many of them feed on fruit and are attracted to nectar filled flowers. They are a big group, with several species in metallic colouration and other bright vibrant patterns. The Gleaming Fruit Chafer (Chlorocala africana) is a beautiful individual with the iridescent colouration, sporting a purplish or often greenish sheen, this found by Phil.
Dragonflies have not been scarce with us seeing quite a lot of Epauletted Skimmers (Orthetrum chrysostigma), which come in shades of light blue in the adult males, the females and young males are more yellow in colouration. This group of dragonflies is exceptionally difficult to tell apart and most need to be caught and preferably a male, so that you can inspect the structure of the second male genitalia or hamule. Not the biggest structure however, but the most important ID feature with this genus.
Then onto a pretty Orb-web spider, this is a Banded Garden Orb-web Spider (Argiope trifasciata). Yes, I know many of you would not agree that spiders are pretty, but this female definitely has an exquisite pattern on her. They are not venomous to us, however for the grasshopper caught a completely different story. Karin and I found this one when we went on a short expedition to search for species to add to our list.
Frog wise, found a little adorable one, thanks to Heribert, who caught it one evening taking guest back to their rooms and then leaving it in the office for a photo and ID session in the morning. We enjoy giving these characters a nickname of “Grumpy Frog”, just look at that face. Their proper name however is Mozambique Rain Frog (Breviceps mossambicus), and after big downpours of rain they often emerge. They have this behaviour of inflating their bodies and looking like a ping pong ball, which makes them look big and mean, more likely funny and cute, but also they don’t swim, they float using this trait.
Other than the small things, there is good game densities around camp, with us seeing lion quite regular at Lake Tagalala, and the Musketeers (two which remain out of the three) were in front of camp one morning. There have been some herds and individual bulls seen in the valley in front of camp, with Titan the largest bull in our immediate area being in full musth at present, so looking to mate with females.
Overall just a fantastic time in the Selous with lots of things to find and see.