Make My Day: Christmas Caterpillar or Pine Emperor Moth Caterpillar from South Africa

Subject: Caterpillar South Africa
Location: Southern S.Africa west coast near Cape Town
December 13, 2015 1:36 pm
Whilst jogging on the west coast of the southern cape in South Africa I found this giant caterpillar crawling across the road. Its colours were truly astounding to me. No idea what species – or even whether it is a moth or butterfly.
Any help would be amazing!
Signature: Giovanna

Pine Emperor Moth Caterpillar
Pine Emperor Moth Caterpillar

Dear Giovanna,
The dayglow red, green and blue colors on this Pine Emperor Moth Caterpillar,
Nudaurelia cytherea, are quite impressive.  Though we don’t normally link to Wikipedia, that popular site states it is:  “commonly known as the … christmas caterpillar due to its festive colouration.”  Your images, including the close-up showing the prolegs, are quite beautiful and they really made our day.

Close-up of the prolegs of the Pine Emperor Moth Caterpillar
Close-up of the prolegs of the Pine Emperor Moth Caterpillar

Wow… That is super cool! Thank you. I sent in another submission of a more mysterious creature – what may be a larval lady bug. Also from Cape Town. I would LOVE to know what you thought of that.
Thank you so very much. This is an amazing service!!!
Giovanna Fasanelli

We forgot to mention that your Christmas Caterpillars are reported to be edible.

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