Invertebrate: Caterpillars, Processionary

Find, identify & discuss the insects of SANParks

Moderator: lion queen

User avatar
Imberbe
Legendary Virtual Ranger
Legendary Virtual Ranger
Posts: 13725
Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2005 12:28 am
Location: Pretoria, RSA

Unread post by Imberbe »

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:
Imberbe = Combretum imberbe = Leadwood = Hardekool = The spirit of the Wildernis!

"Wilderness cannot be conquered, it becomes part of you and enriches your soul." - Louis

The ultimate wilderness experience! Visit www.thekrugertrail.com
Jumbo

Processionary caterpillars

Unread post by Jumbo »

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.
User avatar
Jakkalsbessie
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Posts: 492
Joined: Thu May 26, 2005 12:00 pm
Location: At work longing for the outdoors!

Re: Strange Worms?

Unread post by Jakkalsbessie »

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.
Be more concerned with your character than your reputation. Your character is what you really are while your reputation is merely what others think you are.
Please help save Mapungubwe NP - Facebook page
User avatar
Ranger Piet
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Jul 12, 2005 2:29 pm
Location: Cape Town, South Africa

Unread post by Ranger Piet »

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.

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.
Nannie
Posts: 165
Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2005 11:03 am
Location: Marloth,is where i want to be.

Re: Processionary caterpillars

Unread post by Nannie »

The adult processionary moth.

Image
Magic Guarri
Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger
Posts: 1668
Joined: Sat Jun 20, 2009 12:49 pm
Location: somewhere in Bavaria

Re: Insect ID needed

Unread post by Magic Guarri »

Does anybody knows the ID of these caterpillars?

Image

Thank you!!
Last edited by Magic Guarri on Sat Sep 12, 2009 10:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
To be happy is better than to be a king. People who are happy own a real unique treasure:
A laughing heart


PLEASE NO HOTELS in KNP and PLEASE don´t change KNP into a Funpark!

KNP - Eyes and tracks behind the bush
User avatar
JaneBecker
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 126
Joined: Sun Jan 18, 2009 10:30 am
Location: Blue Hills, Midrand

KNP Road Block???

Unread post by JaneBecker »

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
User avatar
moggiedog
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 465
Joined: Fri May 05, 2006 9:12 am
Location: Benoni

Re: KNP Road Block???

Unread post by moggiedog »

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.}
A Conundrum before Tankwa

SAY NO TO HOTEL DEVELOPMENT IN KRUGER !
User avatar
michel367
Posts: 2929
Joined: Tue Apr 14, 2009 10:44 am
Location: On the edge of heaven

Re: Processionary caterpillars

Unread post by michel367 »

It is a wonderful experience to see these worms.

However.
They can cause a huge discomfort as the hairs can cause a very severe burning pain when you come in contact with it.
In Holland these worms are particular to Oak trees and when summer comes they nest in the Oak trees alongside the roads by the millions.
When driving underneath those trees the hairs enter the cars via the air-con or air freshening system and cause great discomfort for the driver and passengers.
They get rid of them by using an overgrown vacuum cleaner and suck all the worms from the trees.
User avatar
Elsa
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 40093
Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:31 pm
Location: Tinley Manor Beach

Re: Invertebrate: Caterpillars, Processionary

Unread post by Elsa »

Just found this pic of some Processionary worms we found at Lower Sabie in a tree right next to the walkway leading down to reception and the shop.

45 9831321183_c483956df4_b.jpg
Take time each day to be with nature
User avatar
Goggo EJ
Legendary Virtual Ranger
Legendary Virtual Ranger
Posts: 12498
Joined: Sat Oct 06, 2007 7:05 am
Location: Yeovil, UK

Re: Invertebrate: Caterpillars, Processionary

Unread post by Goggo EJ »

I have seen a lot of these around recently, especially in Skukuza and Berg en Dal.
Smiling is contagious. Start an epidemic today!

Have you read the entrance permit? Do you KNOW the Conditions of Entry?

Completed over 8 years in Kruger in my caravan.

If I was normal I wouldn't be me!
Opdieplekrus
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2018 3:48 pm

ID needed: caterpillar in Kruger

Unread post by Opdieplekrus »

Quite a bunch of these, they tend to make trains.
Attachments
2F9216EC-3637-4580-971E-80C103914DF3.jpeg
User avatar
Guinea Pig
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Posts: 1847
Joined: Sat Jan 29, 2005 12:52 pm
Location: Parys (Free State)

Re: ID needed: caterpillar in Kruger

Unread post by Guinea Pig »

Processionary caterpillars. They are the larvae of a moth called the Reticulate Bagnet (Anaphe reticulata). The South African one isn't quite as toxic as some of its cousins elsewhere but you will see pets mostly avoid them.
User avatar
Guinea Pig
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Posts: 1847
Joined: Sat Jan 29, 2005 12:52 pm
Location: Parys (Free State)

Re: ID needed: caterpillar in Kruger

Unread post by Guinea Pig »

:lol: I notice you have a very Afrikaans Forum name, so for interest sake, they are often called "gat-neus-wurms" in Afrikaans. 8)
Opdieplekrus
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2018 3:48 pm

Re: Invertebrate: Caterpillars, Processionary

Unread post by Opdieplekrus »

Haha wonderfull they are indeed.

They are forming marching linea towards our house here. Does this form a problem, e.g. In the future way more of those worms with firy hair? Should i relocate? (The wurms)

Any advice? Acceptable around the house or immentent war incoming?
Post Reply