Caterpillar glutton Q A
KAREN HARRIS from Amanzimtoti writes: I saw many of these caterpillars in a tree on my mother-in-law’s farm near Kranskop in KZN. They’d completely devoured the leaves. What kind of caterpillar is it?
Entomologist DUNCAN MACFADYEN says: These are the larvae of the cabbage tree emperor moth. The adult is a large moth with a brown body. Its wings are also brown, bordered by a lighter brown, pink and sharp brown stripe. There are clear eye-spots on the forewings and the hindwings have a bright orange dot circled with black, with a black spot in the middle. The larvae are beautiful black creatures with white spines and reddish orange spots. As the name implies, they mainly feed on cabbage trees. They’re generally a Bushveld species and they’re sensitive to severe cold. Still, I’ve occasionally seen them in Pretoria.