I noticed that you are fairly new to the forum..18 posts..so a very warm welcome to the forum as well
Much appreciated! A very rewarding forum!
I get even more confused with the jargon used. Myself being a ex-maths/physics teacher I have no idea what a coxa, holometabolous and maxillae are.
You probably could profit by checking the introductory pages of the field guide to South African insects. It also would do no harm to make a few notes from the anatomy pages of library books on entomology. There are hundreds or thousands of technical terms, but as an amateur you only need a dozen or two.
Wikipedia will help a lot. on gutenberg there also are a number of free downloads including "Explanation of Terms Used in Entomology" by Smith.
If your background is indeed maths and physics, the sound scientific basis and logic are a tremendous (and, dare I say it, unusual) asset in studying the living world. Don't take what you see and what you hear as gospel. Use your thinker as well!
No wonder you don't know that family intimately ..my insect book tells me there are about 120 species of slug moths.
Gosh Caracal, that is a very modest family size for moths. Entomologists only start bugging their eyes at 1000 or so. And as for beetle families!!!
Now this one really has me confused...I am so sure that it is a cherry spot larva..saw many photos of it in my searchings on the internet but my insect book tells me that it does not occur along the West Coast . I will now research the Amarylis moth....
Well, I would not get too excited if I were you. There are several closely related moths, and some of them have been carried around and spread on nursery plants.
Yes..thank you for this tip...I have just realised that I have to look past the pretty caterpillar or the pretty flower. I come home with the photos in the hopes of Id'ing the flower or the gogga only to find out that I did not take any notice of the leaves, branches, size ..etc. I just love what I see through my macro lens that I forget about the boring bits around it. But my inquistive mind wants to know about what I have photographed I will make an effort to correct that in the future.
Now, don't get me started on the little things and the surrounding things! It was a physicist, (Rutherford remember?) who said something like that physics was the only science and the rest was all stamp collecting. Actually physics is as much stamp collecting as any other branch of science, (you cannot do physics with out a good mental store of relevant facts and connections, no matter how much calculation you brag about doing!)
But certainly anyone in chemistry, biology, Earth sciences and so on, tars himself with the stamp-collector brush the moment he collects a new fact without thinking about its connections and contexts.
If that sounds like hard work, the good news is that it enriches your view of your world unbelievably. The very fact that you go into a park with your macro lens at the ready prepares you for many times more pleasure and profit from the entering the park than most people get from their entire trip. Work at it. It is worth it.
I did go and have a look at your trip report, rather briefly I am afraid, time and all that! However some of your shots are terrific and the sequence of caracal shots was unbelievable. I wish you just as good success with all your future trips.
I live in Somerset West. If you feel like giving us a call, don't let me stop you!