Rains at last!

I am sure that you are aware that the “el Niño” phenomenon is very strong this year and this affects the rainfall in Southern Africa. As a consequence we have had almost no rain in Harare and we are really struggling to keep plants and even trees not just going but living. We lost a mature avocado tree that dried and other trees are going that way!

May be not. Last night it rained almost the whole night and today it is totally cloudy! The air is moist now and the garden looks as if has been washed and the dust turned into mud. We were forced to cancel our morning walk and instead perform the odd jobs left for a “rainy day” and focus on the garden. The critters are out in force now!

Apart from termite alates and flying ants, we have dozens of chongololos[1] walking about the garden making Stephen, our caretaker, already concerned about the plants, particularly the edible ones! I placed a small piece of mango and, immediately, I got a few takers to show you.

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While dealing with the chongololos I heard shouting from the other side of the house and found both Stephen and my wife contemplating a rather large brown chameleon that had been spotted on a small shrub. Fortunately we have been finding these reptiles recently as we enjoy watching them. As the say goes, they are the only animals able to see where they are going as well as where they have been!

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After the chameleon photo and video session my wife left for the supermarket and I focused on some odd jobs. The main one was to repair a damaged umbrella as it will be handy these days. I was about to glue the broken part when more shouting from Stephen and his son Adam, currently enjoying his school holidays, again interrrupted my work. Knowing that when this happens there is always something interesting, I left the umbrella and went to have a look. I was not disappointed…

With wide smiles, they were already walking towards my workshop, each one was carrying one of the largest and most colourful moths I have ever seen! I suspect that their hatching had taken place during the last couple of days. They were really spectacular and I prefer to post a few pictures for you to better understand what I mean!

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A quick search in the internet and insect books indicated that they are a member of the Emperor moths. As usual, their colours do not exactly match those from either internet specialized pages and the books I have! However, I believe them to be the Common Emperor or Cabbage Tree Emperor (Bunaea alcinoe).

At the moment they are kept inside the house where they are quiet and I am sure waiting for darkness. They will be released tonight so that they can get on with life so that we can enjoy seeing them again next year!

Oh, I almost forgot that Mr. Brown, our land tortoise that came with the house, made an appearance to remind us of its existence and to steal a lettuce leaf or two!

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[1] The local name for millipedes.

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