Mission accomplished

Prof Johnson with one of the trap cameras to his right

We are happy to announce that Prof Steven Johnson has caught the pollinator of Bonatea pulchella on Mountainlands this past weekend. On 21 May we reported on Prof Johnson’s 25 year quest to find this specific moth. (https://www.mountainlands.co.za/elusive-pollinator/).

When he left after his previous visit, five close-focusing trap cameras remained behind and successfully captured black and white video footage of the pollinators at work. Some of the fascinating footage can be seen on the video snip below. This prompted Prof Johnson to drive the 8 hours back to the reserve to try and catch it.

Armed with a red flashlight and sweep net, he waited at the right times for the moth and caught it early one morning, confirming his suspicions of what genus it belongs to. Previously he thought that the hawkmoth Hippotion osiris was a likely candidate after he caught one in the Nelspruit botanical garden in 1996, but this has now been proven to be incorrect.

With the moth in hand he can now establish its correct identity at his laboratory at the University of Kwazulu-Natal. And the work will begin to collate all the data he collected into a scientific document. Yes, we are being a bit vague on the details to allow Prof Johnson to complete his research. It has been a long search for him but his perseverance has finally paid off.

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