Singita Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park | November 2012

The emperors have arrived! This southern marbled emperor moth (Heniocha apollonian) was spotted displaying its vivid pattern on an early morning just before we departed on our game drive – a clear indicator you don’t need to travel far in this area to find something interesting to photograph. Look carefully at the snake-like markings adding to the moth’s defensive mechanism of having the probability of being a two-headed snake to potential predators. As we approach midsummer a fluster of insects are in the air after the rain, all with the intention of breeding and feeding throughout their short lifespan. Most of them we will see fluttering around a lantern at night or any other artificial light source that is brighter that the moon or stars. To understand why insects are attracted to the lights, you need to know about phototaxis. Phototaxis is an organisms automatic movement toward or away from light. Cockroaches are an example of a negatively phototactic organism. Cockroaches generally scurry back into dark corners and crevices when you illuminate them, whereas moths are positively phototactic. There is no definitive explanation for this phenomenon; however there are some interesting theories.