BDInsight – May 2021

Winter is around the corner here on the southern tip of Africa, in some areas winter has already arrived with a cold bang! We have some great BDI news to warm you up….

The online guide to the Neuroptera of southern Africa

We have been working on something very exciting over the past little while, the online guide to the Neuroptera (lacewings and antlions) of southern Africa. The insect order Neuroptera, or net-winged insects, includes the lacewings, mantidflies, antlions, and their relatives. The order consists of some 6,000 described species worldwide!

Neuroptera, and within this group especially the family Chrysopidae, are of interest to a large group of entomologists because of their role as predators of pest arthropods (aphids and spidermites) on agricultural plants. 

Chrysemosa jeanneli – Family Chrysopidae – LacewingMAP Record by Johan Heyns

Citizen Scientist Hours

We had some incredible talks during the month of May. If you missed out on any of the Citizen Scientist Hours (CSH), don’t despair, you can catch up on our YouTube Channel.

One of the many excellent talks during our CSH events was by Katy Williams. Katy is a researcher and the Conservation Director of the Cape Leopard Trust in South Africa. Katy will talked about the Leopards in the Western Cape of South Africa. Despite extensive habitat loss, direct persecution, and reduction in prey numbers, leopards have managed to persist in the greater Western Cape region, and now fill the role of apex predator in this ecosystem. Watch the talk to learn more about these survivors, the challenges they face, and the Cape Leopard Trust’s work to ensure their future…..

Virtual Museum

10,442 records have already been added to species distribution maps in May. Some of the records report the first occurrence of a species in a grid cell. Many of the records “refresh” old records, providing evidence that the species still persists in the grid cell. Asking which class of records is more important is like asking the question: “Is the left wing of the plane more important than the right wing?” We need both types. We only have one day in May left to push the RED dot (see the graph below) for May up to new and dizzying heights!!

Thank you for your support of the Virtual Museum!

In other news…..

The Cape kelp forests have been named one of the Seven Wonders of the World! Described as a shallow underwater jungle more than twice as wide as the Grand Canyon — and a home to millions of creatures, this wonderland beneath the waves lies approximately 17 km south of Cape Town.

Read more here…

You can also watch the following talk on the amazing biodiversity to be found off the coast of Cape Town. Itxaso gives an awesome presentation on her marine biobash adventure, with records from the coast and under the water….

Megan Loftie-Eaton
Megan Loftie-Eaton
Megan is our communications, social media and citizen science coordinator. Prior to her work for the BDI, she coordinated OdonataMAP, the Atlas of African Odonata. A citizen science project run by the Animal Demography Unit, University of Cape Town and funded by the JRS Biodiversity Foundation. She also coordinated LepiMAP, which is the Atlas on African Lepidoptera. Megan is passionate about biodiversity conservation. She is a firm believer in the power of citizen science and getting the public involved in nature conservation.