Fun Mopane Worm Facts For Kids | Kidadl


Fun Mopane Worm Facts For Kids

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First described by John O. Westwood in the year 1849, the mopane worm or Gonimbrasia belina is a species of the emperor moth that is native to the warmer parts of southern Africa. They are also known as madora or amacimbi, masontja. This worm is located on the mopane tree and other vegetation surrounding it such as mango tree leaves. These trees are its main food source. It is a rather large caterpillar that is edible and is eaten by the natives as a food source because of its high nutritional value. However, this has highly impacted the species as there has been a decline in population and the mopane worm is rarely seen. It is even extinct in some areas where it was found earlier due to over-harvesting of these worms for business as a high nutrition food source of protein in the form of dried mopane worms. This species of worm is being studied to find out more ways for this food source to be harvested on a sustainable basis.

For more relatable content, check out these Indian meal moth facts and silkworm facts for kids.

Fun Mopane Worm Facts For Kids

What do they prey on?

Mopane tree

What do they eat?


Average litter size?

30-300 eggs

How much do they weigh?

0.4 oz (12 g)

How long are they?

3.9 in (10 cm)

How tall are they?

Wingspan: 4.7 in (120 mm)

What do they look like?

Large and colorful

Skin Type

Hard exoskeleton

What were their main threats?

Humans And Birds

What is their conservation status?

Not Evaluated

Where you'll find them?

Mopane Trees And Mango Trees


Mozambique, Malawi, Southern Zimbabwe, Northern South Africa, North, East, And Central Botswana









Mopane Worm Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a mopane worm?

The mopane worm is a worm that later on evolves into an emperor moth.

What class of animal does a mopane worm belong to?

Mopane worms are caterpillars that belong to the class of insects under the animal kingdom.

How many mopane worms are there in the world?

There is no data for the exact number of worms of this species in existence. But there has been a major decline in the population of the species as this worm is consumed as a food source by the local population due to its high nutritional value in calcium, iron, and protein and it has been over-harvested over the years both as a food source and also for trade that has turned into a multi-million rand (South African currency) industry.

Where does a mopane worm live?

The mopane worms ranges in Mozambique, Malawi, southern Zimbabwe, northern South Africa, and north, east and central Botswana.

What is a mopane worm's habitat?

Mopane worms can be found living on mopane trees and other vegetation that surround it such as mango trees.

Who do mopane worms live with?

The eggs are placed together to hatch and once they have hatched the larvae continue to live together. But they start to live in isolation as they grow and age.

How long does a mopane worm live?

A mopane worm only survives for a year or so, they spend most of their life burrowed on their fifth shed that is seven to eight months long before they complete their development into a mopane worm adult which only survives for four to five days. A major part of its active life is spent as a caterpillar.

How do they reproduce?

After the female has laid its eggs, the eggs hatch and feed on the leaves of the tree that they have been laid on. If the tree is completely rid of leaves, then they are forced to move on to the next tree. They undergo five molts, with the fifth molt being the best for harvesting these worms. They burrow underground over the winter where they complete their transformation and turn into the emperor moth.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the mopane worm has not yet been evaluated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Mopane Worm Fun Facts

What do mopane worms look like?

Mopane worms have a very distinctive appearance. It is large in size and has black spikes all over its body with tiny black feet and a funky neon-yellow-and-orange pattern. It can be 3.9 in (10 cm) in length and can weigh up to 0.4 oz (12 g). The mopane worm moth has fawn-colored wings with an orange eyespot on each hindwing.

Mopane worms larvae are black in color with colorful bands and spines.

How cute are they?

Although people can be intimidated and grossed out by caterpillars at first due to their appearance, they turn into beautiful creatures once they have completed their development and turned into emperor moths.

How do they communicate?

Caterpillars are known to communicate with vibrations produced from their mouth pants and through anal drumming and scraping.

How big is a mopane worm?

A mopane worm can stretch up to 3.9 in (10 cm) in length. This caterpillar is 10 times bigger than a flatworm.

How fast can a mopane worm move?

The exact speed of locomotion of this species has not been recorded yet.

How much does a mopane worm weigh?

The mopane worm weighs 0.4 oz (12 g). This is an average weight, it can be more and less for every individual mopane worm.

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no sex-specific names for the different sexes of the species. They are both collectively and individually known as the mopane worms or mopane worm.

What would you call a baby mopane worm?

After hatching the first form of the moth is that of a larva.

What do they eat?

These worms feed on the leaves of the mopane trees and the leaves of the trees surrounding the mopane tree. But these are also eaten by humans due to the high nutrition these worms provide as well as the birds for survival. Humans often eat fried mopane worms. They are harvested after the larvae have turned into worms or caterpillars. While you might not like the way the mopane worm taste but they sure are packed with a lot of calcium, iron, and protein.

Are they dangerous?

No, this species does not pose any immediate threat to human beings.

Would they make a good pet?

No, the mopane worm would not make a good pet because it would eventually have to burrow to complete its development into a moth which is not possible it kept as a pet.

Did you know...

The mopane worm after evolving into an emperor moth only lives for three to four days when it does not eat anything, it just mates and the female lays eggs.

The selling of dried mopane worms has turned into a multi-million rand industry in southern Africa.

Over-harvesting of these worms has led to the decline in the population of these insects.

Can you eat mopane worms? 

Yes, these worms are completely edible and are packed with tons of nutrition. While some might not like the taste of the mopane worm, nutrition facts state these worms are packed with tons of iron, calcium, and protein. They are cleaned and sun-dried and then often fried for consumption. They are also sold as dried mopane worms.

The taste of mopane worm can be anything like tea to steak or even leaves, depending on the way it is prepared.

What culture eats mopane worms? 

The mopane worms are eaten in southern African countries mainly in Zimbabwe. In rural Zimbabwe, mopane worms are a part of the staple diet and the mopane worm dish is considered a delicacy in the cities.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these black witch moth interesting facts and ghost moth surprising facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable worm coloring pages.

Written By
Kidadl Team

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