For six weeks, luna moth caterpillars gorge themselves on the leaves of the marula tree. Then, when they're ready, they instinctively weave giant cocoons around themselves in preparation for their stunning metamorphosis.
There is much more to the African savannas than just predator and prey. Here, some of the most remarkable trees provide its inhabitants with two fundamentals: food and shelter. In the Manyeleti Game Reserve, one tree stands out above all others: the marula. It feeds many herbivores, from the smallest insects and rodents to the largest land mammal on Earth. See the integral role it plays over the dramatically extreme seasons in South Africa, and see why this tree is undeniably a tree of life.
Now, you can watch Smithsonian Channel's incredible documentaries and shows anytime you want by purchasing from any of these distributors:
Access even more free Smithsonian Channel full episodes and documentaries online through participating TV providers.
Find out if your television provider carries Smithsonian Channel.
Don't panic! It's simple to upgrade to the latest version of one of these browsers:
Don't panic! To get the best possible experience on smithsonianchannel.com we recommend you upgrade your operating system.
For the best possible site experience, please use Chrome for Android.
Add username "SmithsonianChan" on Snapchat for fun and fascinating facts. We'll be sharing spontaneous photos and videos as inspiration strikes.