What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: please identify
Location: Harare Zimbabwe
January 6, 2016 10:56 pm
Good morning. Hope you well. Compliments of the season. My friend found these awesome caterpillars on her workshop floor. All of the caterpillars were moved back onto the grass. Please may you help us identify them. Thank you so much.
Signature: Natasha

Cabbage Tree Emperor Moth Caterpillar

Cabbage Tree Emperor Moth Caterpillar

Dear Natasha,
This is a Cabbage Tree Emperor Moth Caterpillar,
Bunaea alcinoe, one of the most impressive African Caterpillars, both because of its large size and spectacular coloration, but additionally, it is often found feeding in large numbers.  The Cabbage Tree Emperor Moth Caterpillar is edible.

Cabbage Tree Emperor Moth Caterpillar

Cabbage Tree Emperor Moth Caterpillar

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: Harare, Zimbabwe

2 Responses to Cabbage Tree Emperor Moth Caterpillar from Zimbabwe

  1. Sean Toy says:

    I would like to address the “The Cabbage Tree Emperor Moth Caterpillar is edible” comment.

    Any living creature is edible. The main concerns are:

    1. Will it kill you if you eat it?
    2. Will it make you sick if you eat it?
    3. Is the flavor agreeable if living?
    4. If not, does it taste better dead?
    5. If not, how would you prepare it to give it a better flavor?
    6. If I eat it, am I contributing to the destruction of an endangered species?
    7. Would eating it count as “Unnecessary Carnage”?
    8. Would eating it be preferable to calling an exterminator (if you are overrun with it)?
    9. Would I, in some way, regret having eaten it?
    10. Is it kosher or halal?
    11. Should I make a friend eat it first?
    12. Should I eat it if it is a new species?
    13. If it is a new species, can I name it (and then eat it)?
    14. If I’m lost in the wilderness, will eating it contribute to my survival?

    Casually saying that something is edible opens up a whole new can of ethical/emotional/gustatory worms (ARE there canned worms on sale somewhere? If so, what is a fair market price for them?) apart from simply eating them.

    Perhaps there should be a sister site to this one called “How’s It Taste.Com”? It could feature the bugs from this site in parallel articles and refer to the edibility and ethical problems of eating the featured critter.
    (BTW, currently there is no howsittaste.com).

    • bugman says:

      We will see if David Glacer responds to your questions. Meanwhile we will reference the Paul Latham book “Edible Caterpillar and their Food Plants in Bas-Congo” 2015 which is mentioned on Research Gate. A pot full of Cabbage Tree Emperor Moth Caterpillars is pictured on the cover and the abstract reads: “Insects represent an important high protein food for many rural families in central and southern Africa. Nowhere is this more the case than in the Congo.” Animals.Mom states on its Caterpillars that Gorillas Eat page: “Gorillas are mostly herbivores, so most of their diet comes from plant materials. However, caterpillars offer a protein-rich food source, and comprise about 3 percent of their diets. According to Jay Stutz from Myombe Reserve at Busch Gardens, gorillas eat several caterpillar species, including emperor moths and silk moths” and “The cabbage tree emperor moth is another high-protein choice for gorillas. Found in many African countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and others, this caterpillar underwent nutritional testing to determine its usefulness as a supplemental protein source. Indeed, it was determined that this species yields a high protein content, at 55 percent. It also offers a 25 percent fat content, providing additional calories and flavor for gorillas or other species who dine on this caterpillar.”

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