Infestation of caterpillars

Unknown Caterpillars

Infestation of caterpillars
Location: hawaii, big island
February 27, 2011 6:52 pm
Help…i live in hawaii, and in the 7 years i have been there i have never seen anything like these caterpillars…there seems to be a fe different types, none of which i can identify, but they are everywhere, even inside! what do i do, what are they
Signature: ryan Williamson

Unknown Caterpillars

Dear Ryan,
Alas, your photos are quite blurry, but we believe there is a resemblance between your caterpillars and the members of the subfamily Erebinae, which includes the Underwings.  You can see some of these North American species of Moths on BugGuide.  Many endemic species on Hawaii are being displaced by opportunistic invasive exotic species, and it is entirely possible that these caterpillars have been introduced.  Often populations of insects peak during certain years, and it is also possible that this is a native species that has suddenly experienced a population explosion due to ideal conditions.  Knowing the plant that they are feeding upon may help with the identification.

Unknown Caterpillar Outbreak

thanks for your response…i can tell you they are eating (almost exclusivly) what we call “Christmas berry” trees, or “brazilian Pepper”, or “Florida holly”….i heard the trees called all of these names…its a sappy tree, with red pepper corn berries, white blossoms, and an invasive tree itself. There are hundreds of acres of this tree where i live….They(caterpillars) do not like oleander, but are eating orchids as well….hope this helps to identify them better…there seems to be a few different types of caterpillars, but they may be different aged or something….any ideas what to do to get rid of them?

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Location: Hawaii

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