Cabbage Tree Emperor Moth from South Africa: Bunaea alcinoe

Not sure if you can identify caterpillars from Africa but the picture of one attached is ‘bugging’ us. We would love to know what its called, and whether its poisonous? We came across several in a garden near Port Elizabeth, South Africa. It was about the size of an average index finger. 3-4 inches long. thank you Regards
Fran and John Barnes (England – UK)

Hi Fran and John,
All we can say for certain is that this is a Saturnid Moth Caterpillar, and it looks like one of the Royal Moths, the group that contains the Hickory Horned Devil in the U.S. Though formidable looking, these are not poisonous caterpillars.

(03/28/2007) Royal Moth caterpillar from S.Africa
Hello Daniel and Lisa Anne, Apologies for having been silent so long; I have quite a few images of edible insects to send [in fact I recently supplied edible bugs to The Tonight Show!] but am having trouble formatting them for appropriate sizes. This dramatically-colored caterpillar from South Africa: it’s Bunaea alcinoe, as found in Kirby Wolfe’s wonderful Saturnid site. And yup, it’s edible throughout several southern African countries. Here’s the pertinent web page:
All the best,

Hi again Dave,
Thanks so much for the identification and link. Further research on our part has revealed a common name, the Cabbage Tree Emperor Moth.

10 thoughts on “Cabbage Tree Emperor Moth from South Africa: Bunaea alcinoe”

  1. We have 18 in our garden at the moment. I see them digging holes into grass. Is this normal? Do they transform underground?


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