Mopani Worms – Colourful Creatures

Mopani worms are found most often on mopani trees in Kruger National Park. These interesting worms, which are actually caterpillars despite their name, eat the leaves of the mopani tree. They also eat the leaves of other trees, but mopani trees are their favourite.

Mopani wormThe worms have a huge appetite and eat all the time.

When you’re in Kruger National Park, you might see the worms in mopani trees:

If there are a lot of worms on a tree all munching away at the leaves, you can actually hear the sound of them eating!

The worms have black feet and heads. Their bodies are speckled with black, white, yellow and red dots.

You’ll normally see the worms in summer through to winter only. Between winter and summer the worms burrow underground to turn into moths.

Seeing a mopani moth is a rare sight because they only live for three or four days and they’re only around in early summer.

During their very short lifespan, they look for a mate and lay eggs.

Mopani moths are a big type of moth. Their wingspan is 12cm (4.5in)!

Their wings can be different shades of brown, green or red and they have a large orange spot on each one.

 

Did you know that outside of Kruger National Park, some of the local people eat the worms. They eat them raw or preserve them and eat dried worms or even smoked ones!

The main predator in Kruger National Park of the worms are birds.

If you come across leaves which look like they’ve been chewed, be sure to check for worms. There just might be one (or many) of them nearby!