Cabbage? Yum! Q A
ELMA JANSEN from Port Elizabeth writes: I found this unusual caterpillar in our garden. Any idea what it is?
Entomologist DUNCAN MACFADYEN says: This is the larva of the cabbage tree emperor moth ( Bunaea alcinoe), a large moth with a wingspan of approximately 160 mm. As the name implies, they mainly feed on cussonias (cabbage trees), but also on croton trees, bauhinias and ekebergias. They’re generally a Bushveld species as they are sensitive to severe cold. I have seen them in Pretoria, however.
ABird expert ULRICH OBERPRIELER says: Sadly it’s not unusual to see a dead waterbird in a tree. The birds often get tangled up in litter like plastic bags, net bags and fishing line, and they can lose a leg or their life when that debris snags on a branch. They can also die of hunger and thirst when stuck. In this case, however, litter wasn’t to blame. The heron’s neck is clearly wedged in the fork of the branch. I can only speculate, but a strong wind might have knocked the heron off course, or another heron might have attacked it. Judging by the condition of the feathers on the heron’s neck and under its wings, it must have tried hard to get free, but the position of its body and the branches obviously prevented it from doing so.