Cater­pil­lar glut­ton Q A

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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.

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