The Difference Between Cabbage Tree Emperor Caterpillars and Mopane Caterpillars

Share the knowledge

“Is the cabbage tree emperor worm the same as a mopane worm?” is all this reader asks in his submission. He does not attach any pictures, but we will provide ample description to make up for the lack of visual information. In short, the cabbage tree emperor worm is not the same as a mopane worm. And to be clear, neither of these “worms” are actually worms, strictly speaking. They are caterpillars. Caterpillars are the larval form of any butterfly or moth, and both of the species our reader mentions are moth caterpillars. Specifically, they are both members of the same family: the emperor moth. This is perhaps why our reader confused them for each other.

The cabbage tree emperor caterpillar (Bunaea alcinoe) is a massive, regal creature. It can grow up to three inches in length and is an ink black color. On top of that, it has red spots and white spikes running down the length of its body, which gives it a dragon-like appearance. The adult moth is a beautiful, big creature with a maroon body and brown wings marked with white stripes and orange eyespots that can scare away predators (somewhat reminiscent of its larval form). They are native to the Africas, and because of this are also known as African emperor moths. In fact, we have previously responded to readers from South Africa who have encountered “the cabbage tree emperor caterpillar“.

On the flip side, we have the mopane caterpillar (Gonimbrasia belina), which refers to the larva of a species of emperor moth which can also be found in South Africa, and is actually endemic to that country. This would further explain how the two species of emperor moths are confused for one another. This caterpillar is multicolored and is made up of stripes that segment its body into greens, oranges, and black and white-spots. Like the cabbage tree emperor caterpillar, the mopane caterpillar also has spikes, though its spikes are black instead of white. As its name suggests, the mopane caterpillar feeds on mopane tree leaves. These caterpillars are also edible, and have actually served as a staple source of protein in South Africa.

In conclusion, the cabbage tree emperor caterpillar and the mopane caterpillar are different species that belong to the same family of emperor moths. Neither of the two species are harmful, though we do not recommend touching them, as their spikes are probably as pointy and sharp as they look. Besides, touching caterpillars and other worm-like creatures can result in allergic reactions. We hope that clears things up for our reader, and we wish him the very best!

 

All About Worms is always free, always reader-supported. Your tips via CashApp, Venmo, or Paypal are appreciated! Receipts will come from ISIPP Publishing.

CashApp us Square Cash app link

Venmo us Venmo link

Paypal us Paypal link

Note: Some links on this site are partner links. That means that we earn a tiny bit if you purchase something through them, at no extra charge to you. This helps offset the cost of keeping this resource free for everybody (it doesn't cover our costs, but every little bit helps! :~) )

Summary
Article Name
The Difference Between Cabbage Tree Emperor Caterpillars and Mopane Caterpillars
Description
"Is the cabbage tree emperor worm the same as a mopane worm?" is all this reader asks in his submission. He does not attach any pictures, but we will provide ample description to make up for the lack of visual information.
Author

Share the knowledge

Author: Worm Researcher Anton

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.