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Moth: African wild silk moth

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katydownunder
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Caterpillar ID

Unread postby katydownunder » Fri Jan 01, 2010 9:14 pm

We have been to KTP last November.
This year we sighted hundreds if not thousands of Caterpillars.
We have never seen them before.More of the on the Nossob river side, than on the Aoub river side.Moreover more of the around Nossob, than further up North.
They seem to have a taste for a certain kind of tree, in our oppinion Camelthorn.
Later there were Cocoons hanging in the trees like lampions.

If you need the Cocoon as well for an ID, please let me know.And I will post a pic of them as well.

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The Trip of a lifetime....
Our KTP Adventures November 2010

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Anro
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Moth: African wild silk moth

Unread postby Anro » Mon Jan 11, 2010 11:53 am

One of the trees in my garden (I think it is Rhus Crenata) was full of Cabbage Tree Emperor Moth catterpillars a week or so before Christmas. Fortunitely, before they could devour all the leaves, they fell off and pupated.

I am now curious to know what the moth looks like.

Does anyone have a link of a pictureof the moth?

It must be one of the most beautiful and colourful catterpillars around! I was wondering if those pricks on the caterpillar would have venom or would hurt? I was too scared to try it out!

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BushSnake
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Re: Insect ID needed

Unread postby BushSnake » Mon Jan 11, 2010 12:18 pm

I am not 100% sure about the common names, but the emperor moths that normally breed on cabbage trees (Cussonia spp) have black larvae with white spike and red dots. The larvae are harmless and can be picked up... or eaten should you wish to :wink: . The moth looks like this (Googled images of Bunaea alcinoe)
Bunaea alcinoe

As for the KTP larvae.... I have no idea but will try to find out from one of the experts. What were they feeding on?
"If you can only visit two continents in your lifetime, visit Africa.... TWICE" - R.Elliot

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katydownunder
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Re: Insect ID needed

Unread postby katydownunder » Thu Jan 14, 2010 12:32 am

BushSnake wrote:As for the KTP larvae.... I have no idea but will try to find out from one of the experts. What were they feeding on?


Well I am not 100% sure, but it looks as if they were mainly in Camelthorn Trees.
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DuneRichard
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Re: Insect ID needed

Unread postby DuneRichard » Thu Jan 14, 2010 2:45 pm

Your Kalahari caterpillar is none other than the Gonometa postica (I have NO clue what the common name is though). :hmz:

A few bits to nibble on -

Their silk has been proven to be up to 300% better quality than the current commersial silk worm, but due to the spines, the actual processing costs of the silk are way to high to use it.

On the topic of spines, those hairs on its body can cause VICIOUS irritation if they get embedded in your skin. Why? Because the structure is so that the hair or spine actually bores INTO you, as apposed to just sticking like a thorn would.

Like everything in the Kalahari, the Gonometa have some serious defensive stratagies... :thumbs_up:
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Always something new out of Africa - Pliny the Elder

Thanatosis emoticon - :shock:

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JenB
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Re: Moth: African wild silk moth

Unread postby JenB » Mon Oct 03, 2011 6:53 am

Gonometa postica
Kalahari Wild Silk

This silk was not exploited until the 1980s as far as we know. Various small ventures have produced enough silk to make some scarves and shawls and even some clothing. Four of these have been in the Johannnesburg area, the North West Province of South Africa, eastern Namibia, and eastern Botswana. We have been able to obtain scarves and other small pieces in recent years by searching internet sources.

Two species are used for silk. One is Gonometa postica (Walker), of which the caterpillars feed on various kinds of trees in the bean family (Leguminosae), including camel thorn (Acacia erioloba), umbrella thorn (A. tortilis), sweet thorn (A. karroo), spike-flowered black-thorn (A. mellifera), mtundo and msasa (both Brachystegia), and mnondo (Julbernardia globiflora). The other silkmoth is Gonometa rufobrunnea Aurivillius (Aurivillius 1927) that feeds almost exclusively on mopane (Colophospermum mopane). Pinhey (1979) figured a pair of moths of G. rufobrunnea incorrectly under the name G. fulvida, but his figures of G. postica are more accurate than those shown by Aurivillius (1927). The moths live in the deserts and savannas. Local people collect the cocoons from the trees. Attempts are being made to only collect emerged cocoons so that this silk can be maintained as a renewable resource. However, populations of the moths fluctuate drastically, and thus there is not a steady and reliable source of cocoons over a period of several years. For these reasons (overexploitation or fluctuating populations), some of the silk projects have been abandoned. The cocoons are oval and hard. When degummed, they yield a very fine floss that can be combed and handspun into soft yarn, which in turn, can be handwoven into nice textiles. The silk takes dyes very well, but the natural golden brown colors are often preferred. Cocoons of Gonometa are also used by San Peoples to make ankle rattles.

Kalahari Wild Silk
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