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 Post subject: Invertebrate: Caterpillars, Processionary
Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2005 6:48 pm 
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Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2005 7:12 pm 
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Although I have not seen it for quite a number of years, I have seen substantially longer 'trains' of this caterpillars in the park before. I tried to obtain more info on the species, but unfortunately it seems I do not have the correct reference material.

Another impressive 'train' you see sometimes (which I also have not seen recently) is the Matebele Ants.


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Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2005 7:22 pm 
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This is the longest we have seen so far

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Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2005 8:08 pm 
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Yeah, this is more the type of 'trains' I recall.


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2005 10:49 pm 
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These are members of the family Thaumetopoeidae (Processionary worms). There are nine species in Southern Africa, and in the KNP they occur only south of the Olifants River. The most common type is Anaphe reticulata.

The catterpillars form long "trains" when moving from one food source to another. The catterpillars walk touching the one in front and will stop abbruptly when one loose contact whith the one in front. These group can be up to 600 strong, but is usually a lot less.

When pupating they spin a silk envelope over the entire group. In this each larvae spin its own cocoon. You often see this spongy mass in hidden corners.

The highly attractive adult moths is short lived.
:wink:

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 Post subject: Processionary caterpillars
Unread postPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2006 8:13 am 
During Zebra and my last Kruger visit, beginning of June, we encountered these worms walking in a line Zebra’s trip report

Yesterday afternoon at Marloth we saw them again. I almost had a hart attack because from afar it seemed to be a massive white snake. :shock:

Enlarge photo to see better
Image

Image

They were making there way up into on of our Knob-thorn trees. We unfortunately did not have the time to see what they planned to do in the tree….. I will have a look next weekend.

Image

Do any of you have an idea as to what type of worms these are and why they display this behaviour? Might it be to put off predators? They do look like one big snake…. :?

Edited to change heading


Last edited by Jumbo on Mon Jul 03, 2006 8:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Strange Worms?
Unread postPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2006 8:37 am 
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They are called Processionary caterpillars /worms. There are 2 'believes' about this walking in a line... 1 is to find food. each caterpillar leaves a strong strand of silk behind them and those that follow walk along the line of silk.
So they are literally creating a silk road that helps keep the line together (the thread left by the leader makes it easier for the followers to keep to the straight and narrow)

And the second one is as you guessed to put off predators.

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2006 8:44 am 
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They are Processionary caterpillars, like the Ochrogaster lunifer. That one lives in Australia, but it will give you a good idea of what they are like and such.
As WTM says, stay well away from them, their hairs are known to irritate at lot, and also disperse in the wind, irritating peoples lungs!

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2006 9:11 am 
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Just for the clarification of the use of the term "worm" in SA:

Do you guys use worm as equivalent to caterpillar?
It just occured to me that you also call the larva/caterpillar of the mopani moth "Mopani worm".
To me worms and caterpillars are two very different animals...

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2006 10:31 am 
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I believe it might be more complex than following a strand of silk. (Admittedly only based on one observation of the caterpillars.)

ImageLarge

What I observed one day while taking pictures is that when the line breaks for some reason (in that case caused by me moving a branch out of the line of sight of my camera) the whole procession comes to a halt.

Image

The last caterpillar in the front line immediately halted and this caused a chain reaction of stopping all the way to the first caterpillar. The front caterpillar of the bakc line (the one that lost touch with its predecessor started slowly searching left and right until it connected with the one in front again and from there the whole train got moving again.

This leads me to believe there is (in addition to the silk thread maybe?) some form of tacticle or scent based mechanism involved in keeping the chain intact.


Last edited by Elsa on Fri Jun 13, 2014 4:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
pic resized.


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 Post subject: Re: Processionary caterpillars
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 12:06 pm 
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The adult processionary moth.

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 Post subject: Re: Insect ID needed
Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2009 9:54 pm 
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Does anybody knows the ID of these caterpillars?

Image

Thank you!!

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Last edited by Magic Guarri on Sat Sep 12, 2009 10:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Insect ID needed
Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2009 9:59 pm 
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Magic, these look like Processionary worms. (members of the family Thaumetopoeidae)

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 Post subject: KNP Road Block???
Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 19, 2010 1:22 pm 
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Hi Mites. Does anyone know if this really happened? received from my son with no references or dates.

Jane (Hope the pics pasted as well, if not I will try another route)

This is the moment a group of tiny caterpillars formed an incredible 17ft long convoy to cross a road in the Kruger National Park.

Some 136 caterpillars made the single line and wriggled top-to-toe across the road, linked by a thin silk thread which set their path.

And their safety-in-numbers approach had the desired effect as the slow-moving convoy was easily seen by motorists, who were held up for 20 minutes as it made its way across.



Bumper to bumper: This slow moving convoy of migrating caterpillars was spotted in the Kruger National Park by Jamie Rooney, from High Wycombe, Bucks

The spectacle was captured on camera by British tourist Jamie Rooney, who was visiting the famous Kruger National Park in South Africa.

Jamie, from High Wycombe, Bucks, was in a Jeep full of tourists when their driver slammed the brakes just inches from the crawling caterpillars.

Jamie, 38, who works in website sales, said: "It was an incredible sight.

'We were out driving in Kruger National Park for a safari, when all of a sudden the driver shouted out and slammed on his brakes.'

'He managed to stop just in time in front of this amazing trail of caterpillars, which was stretching across the road.'

'Conservation is a massive deal in South Africa and the idea is that if there is any living creature in the road you have to wait patiently until it is safely across.'

'We got out to get a closer look and counted 136 caterpillars in convoy, all moving together across the track.'

'They were following a very, very thin silk thread on the ground and it took them about 20 minutes to get across the road safely.'

'Our guide had never seen it before, but he'd heard about it and explained they were migrating into the bush where they would disperse.'

'It's like the mass migration of bigger animals like wildebeest, but on a different scale and pace.'

'When they arrive in the bush, they turn into chrysalis and then butterflies.'

'It's a rare sight. It was an absolute joy to watch and a great experience to be able to get down close and see it first hand.'



This incredible convoy is the ultimate commuter train - a trail of tiny caterpillars heading off into the bush. An amazing 136 caterpillars wriggled top-to-toe across
a road on their migratory route in Kruger National Park, South Africa.



Hold up: Traffic stopped while the slow-moving caterpillar convoy crossed the road


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 Post subject: Re: KNP Road Block???
Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 19, 2010 1:35 pm 
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I received the same mail from a friend.
I honestly do not know if this is a genuine story - but I have seen these caterpillar - I think they are called processionary caterpillar/worms. I was hiking at the time and there were far too many to think of counting. I did manage to get some shots of them on a tree stump.

Image

here is another link on the forum
http://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=5048
{Edit by DQ, merged the topics, so that link doesn't work anymore.}

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