It has been raining in Mahalapye for the last few days off and on and this morning I got a lovely surprise- a mophane moth outside my bedroom door!
These lovely creatures lay eggs which hatch to form the fellows below:
This caterpillar is voracious. I remember one year when we lived in Lecheng we had had fantastic rains and the mophane trees (from which these guys get their name) were in full leaf. We went away for a week or so and when we returned I remember being out on my daily walk with the dogs and thinking everything seemed so dry somehow. Then I realised suddenly that the trees were completely de-leafed! These guys were long gone but they'd stripped the trees nearly bare. I have stood quietly under a mophane tree when these fellows are around and you can hear the crunching- that's how mad they are about their food.
These worms are a source of income and food for many Batswana. They are a serious job to collect and process as they have hard, thorny bodies, but they are collected and gutted and dried. People cook them in various ways and eat them with maize porridge. People who like them like them a lot. My children and my husband will eat them one after another like a snack. In a year of good rains there are often two crops of mophane worms.
I cannot comment on their taste I'm afraid. Though quite adventurous with my eating, I've yet to dive into the world of the mophane worm.