Cab­bage? Yum! Q A

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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.

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