The Cone-headed Grasshoppers are very common in the wadis around Dahab, both in their black adult phase and their pale/yellow colored nymph phase. And are often seen mating, the large female carrying the smaller male on her back.
I just love the common name of this moth – Crimson-speckled Flunkey is so much fun to say!
This moth (Utetheisa pulchella) belongs to the Erebidae family and can be found in dry open spaces in the Afrotropical ecozone in North Africa, the Near East, and Central Asia.
Their wings are white with small black spots between larger bright red one with an irregular black border. Their heads and thorax areas can be cream- to yellow-colored with the same pattern as the wings.
Crimson-speckled Flunkeys fly during both the day and night, making them easier to spot than only night-flying moths. I have seen them in various locations in South Sinai, on a variety of plants.
The larvae, or caterpillars, eat a range of plants. In Sinai they most likely eat the leaves of Trichodesma and Heliotropium plants, as well as others. As they eat, the caterpillars accumulate a large amount of alkaloids in their bodies, making them unpalatable and toxic to birds. Their colors serve as a warning sign: They are dark brown or gray with orange lines across each segment. They have lateral white lines along their bodies and tufts of grayish hairs. I have never seen the caterpillars, at least not that I recall, but I found the image below on Wikipedia.
Have you ever spotted these moths or caterpillars on your wanderings?
Wasps are insects in the order Hymenoptera, which also includes sawflies, bees, and ants. Wasps such as hornets are social and live together in a nest. But most wasps are solitary. Wasps can be predators and pollinators. Some are parasitoidal, meaning they lay their eggs IN or ON other insects. The larvae eventually kill the host insect. Solitary wasps often do this to pest insects, so can be a beneficial pest control for crops.
Pictured here are a handful of the different wasps in Sinai:
Sand Wasp (Bembix sp.) Caterpillar Hunting Wasp (Delta dimidiatipenne) Carrot Wasp (Gasteruptiidae family) Oriental Hornet (Vespa orientalis) Thread-waisted Wasp (Ammophila sp)
Not all insects are bugs. True bugs form the order Hemiptera and include such critters as cicadas, aphids, planthoppers, leafhoppers, and shield bugs. Most bugs feed on plants, using their sucking mouth parts to get at the sap.
Here you can see a nymph of a Lygaeid bug, a Bagrada Bug, Milkweed Bugs, a Black Watermelon Bug, and a Shield Bug nymph.
Butterflies! I love them. I am enthralled by their process of metamorphosis. Over the years, I have raised dozens of them indoors and watched them grow and change from tiny caterpillars to delicate chrysalises to beautiful butterflies. Often I share this experience with my students, who are as fascinated as I am, learning along with them.
I am able to identify most of the butterflies I spot thanks to the book Butterflies of Egypt: Atlas, Red Data listing & Conservation by Francis Gilbert and Samy Zalat. You can download the book for free here. Many thanks to the authors for sharing this amazing resource!
In the photo collection above, you can see:
Large Salmon Arab (Colotis fausta) Grass Jewel (Chilades trochylus) Small White (Pieris rapae) African Babul Blue (Azanus jesous) Saharan Swallowtail (Papilio saharae) Dark Grass Blue (Zizeeria karsandra) Desert White (Pontia glauconome) African Caper White (Belenois aurota) African Monarch (Danaus chrysippus) Pomegranate Playboy (Deudorix livia) Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) Long-tailed Blue (Lampides boeticus) Scarce Green-striped White (Euchloe falloui) Mediterranean Tiger Blue (Tarucus rosaceus)
It wasn’t until I turned my camera lens from the desert blooms to the creepy crawlies that I got over my fear of spiders. Mostly. Big, hairy ones still freak me out. But the little ones I find around the local wadis and my own desert garden have grown on me and I think they are quite stunning! Luckily, none of these commonly seen spiders are venomous, but there are dangerous spiders in Sinai, like the rare White Widow Spider. Camel Spiders are not spiders nor scorpions, but rather in their own order of Arachnids.
“Sinai is one of the very few places in the world (and it may be unique) where no social bees of any kind occur naturally, only solitary bees…Recently hives of domesticated social honeybees have been brought in from Egypt, and scientists are worried about their impact on the wild bees, and hence on the efficiency with which native plants are pollinated. ” ~ Gardens of a Sacred Landscape: Bedouin Heritage and Natural History in the High Mountains of Sinai by Samy Zalat and Francis Gilbert
Top Right: Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa sp), which you can learn more about in this post.
Bottom Right: Leafcutter Bee (Coelioxys sp), which you can learn more about in this post.
There have been several reports in the past year of hives of social bees in Dahab and Nuweiba. After reading the book quoted above, I have been fascinated about their possible impact on the native solitary bees and plants, so I did a bit of research and found two very interesting articles:
Sinai Wild Bees Under Threat (Scientists warn against the negative impact of honeybees’ introduction on wild bees and native plants in South Sinai.)
Flies can be pesky for sure, but when you take a closer look, many of them are quite beautiful! Flies are in the order Diptera, which includes not only those pesky house flies but horse-flies, crane flies, fruit flies, hoverflies, midges, and mosquitoes.
In this sampling of flies in Sinai, you see:
Top Left: Band-eyed Hoverfly (Eristalinus taeniops)
Bottom Left: Common Green Bottle Fly (Lucilia sericata)
Top Right: Hoverfly (Eupeodes corollae)
The other two images are unidentified fruit flies (Drosophilidae family).