The Keurboom tree and the importance of its preservation at Phantom Forest

Almost every single Keurboom tree (virgilia divaricate) and Phantom Moth (leto
venus) in the indigenous forests between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay, is home to an insect that most of us will never see.

The female Phantom (or Ghost) Moth (Leto Venus) lays her eggs in the soft earth near the roots of the Keurboom, before flying off to die. The larvae make their way up the tree, drilling a tunnel through the bark into the wood. As they enlarge the tunnel, the sawdust from which they extract their food, and their droppings, are expelled through the opening. Once the larvae gain maturity, and just before the pupa stage, they seal the opening with a cap of gum-like sawdust. The pupae move around with ease inside the
sealed tunnel by wriggling their abdominal segments, which are especially
adapted for this purpose. Before the adult pupa emerges, the cap splits open
and the insect works itself out of the tunnel until its wing cases are free.
After a minute or two, the pupa opens its wings, moving quickly up the trunk of
the Keurboom before settling down and allowing its beautiful, silver-spotted
wings to unfurl.

Just as the Phantom Moth is the only of its kind, so too is this eco reserve, which proudly bears its name.


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5 Responses to The Keurboom tree and the importance of its preservation at Phantom Forest

  1. Warren says:

    this is awesome!

  2. Steve says:

    I am growing honeybush Tea in the Harkerville area where we have had an infestation of Keurbooms moth larvae. While they appear to have no effect on a Keurbooms tree, they kill the honeybush plant. Does anybody have any info on the life cycle of these little critters please?

    • Phantom_Forest says:

      Hello Steve
      My sincere apologies for this late reply. Wish I could give you some info on your problem with the moth infestation.
      Do you know what type of moth it is and is it perhaps the phantom moth (leto venus)variety?


  3. Truida van der Merwe says:

    We live in Paradise Beach, next to Jeffreys Bay and came across the most beautiful Phantom Moth sitting in the middle of the street about 150 m from the sea! I could not believe my own eyes! No photo can really do any justice to its beauty.
    There are no Keurboom trees around Paradise Beach. Where could it come from?

    • Phantom_Forest says:

      Hello Truida

      It so exciting to see such a gift of nature. The moth is not that common here and we always get so excited to see them in our forest.
      The Phantom moth to which our emblem originates is the (leto venus) variety, that specifically uses the Keurboom tree to reproduce.
      There are many different kinds of Phantom moths in various parts of the world.

      Sending you best greetings from our paradise to yours!

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