Invertebrates

Photograph by Joe Smereczansky

Apis mellifera capensis

Common Name: Cape Honey Bee
Family: Apidae
Description: Characteristically darker in colour than other honeybees.
Distribution: This bee only be found in the Western Cape and some parts of the Eastern Cape amongst the Fynbos
Life Cycle: The life cycle follows the pattern: egg-larva-pupa-adult.
Diet: It feeds on the nectar and pollen of many different flowering fynbos plants.
Behaviour: Colonies have but one mated Queen with 10 000 to 50 000 worker bees that are all female. The queen been can however choose the sex of her offspring and unfertilized eggs develop into male “drones” which are only used for mating and will die after the “deed” is done. Queens have an average lifespan of four years whereas workers only survive for a few weeks during summer.
Conservation Status: Least Concern
Interesting Fact: The Cape Honeybee is extremely important within the ecosystem as they play an important role of providing pollination services to all plants.

papilio demodocus demodocus

Common Name: Citrus Swallowtail
Family: Papilionidae 
Description: These butterflies have black and yellow markings with red and blue eyespots and female butterflies tend to be larger than males. 
Distribution: They are common to sub-Saharan Africa. 
Diet: These butterflies feed on the nectar of flowers, they will hover briefly at each flower, their wings in constant motion, before moving off and resuming their flight in search of the next flower. 
Behaviour: Generally these butterflies pass through a three generation life cycle per year. Females lay their eggs one by one on the leaves of Citrus Trees. After about six days the egg hatch into immature larva.  The larvae also has a black and white colouration which provides effective camouflage as they resemble bird droppings, they can also grow to a length of 10 – 15 mm before becoming mature larvae which grow to 45mm. After the larvae mature they then produce a cocoon and attach the silk pod to branches of trees or bushes. They then remain in pupal form for 2 – 3 weeks before emerging as adults. Courtship and mating is fairly simple, once the female enters the visual field of the male, he quickly moves and forces the female to land. The male then produces pheromones to attract the female and she responds by emitting a perfume and once she responds, mating can then take place.
Interesting Fact: W
hen in the mature larvae form the caterpillars are green with white or pink markings. When threatened by a predator (mainly birds) they emit a forked orange-coloured organ that gives off a strong smell, discouraging the predator. This larvae is also susceptible to acting as hosts for parasitic wasp larvae.

palystes superciliosis

Common Name: Common Rain Spider
Family: Huntsman Spider
Description: This spider, with a body size of 2-3 cm in length, has eight eyes and is coloured with inconspicuous shades of brown on the top half of its body. Its bottom side is a combination of yellow and black banding which extends down its legs. 
Distribution: Its preferred habitat is scrubland and savannah woodland throughout Southern Africa living under rocks or bark on trees but will often enter homes before and after rain when it is most active.
Diet: Their diet consists of many species of insects, some invertebrates and occasionally small skinks and lizards.  
Behaviour: After mating in early summer, females will construct a round egg sac about 6 – 10 cm in diameter, made of silk with leaves and twigs woven in between to protect the eggs within and are suspended from branches in bushes or trees. The females spends  3 – 5 hours constructing the sac and then will aggressively guard the sac until the spiderlings molt for the first time and start chewing their way through the sac, after which the female will abandon the sac and young. Females can construct about three egg sacs over their two year life span.
Interesting Fact: These spiders have been known to inflict a painful bite but are not at all toxic to humans. The rain spider often falls into the common misconceived group of spiders that are believed to be deadly to humans.