Monday, April 27, 2015

An Inching Infestation

Recently we in Serena camp were blessed with some cute guests – thousands and thousands of them!

These little inchworms appeared one day and spent about 5 days moving through camp, devouring every leaf on every Orange-leafed Croton bush in sight. Although initially somewhat adorable, these pests turned out to be quite a nuisance! Imagine spending an evening picking 85 inchworms out of your tent before you go to bed. Imagine going running and having to claw at the air in front of you like a lunatic in order to remove all the inchworms abseiling down out of the trees.  Imagine turning the light on to find you are standing in a pile of hundreds of inchworms. Imagine trying to brush the little crawlers off of your body only to have your hand come back covered in caterpillar slime! This has been our life in Serena camp recently.  Cute, yes, but also incredibly annoying.

At one point the caterpillars took up residence by the toilet.

These inchworms are the caterpillars of a species of geometrid moth, one that apparently has a particular fondness for Croton bushes.  We don’t really know why they all appeared at once or what happened to them, but starting yesterday morning there have been a LOT of moths around camp. This could  be a coincidence, but I think they are our inchy friends all grown up and back for another visit.

Check out the photos and video below, including a fight between some of the caterpillars over the last bite of Croton on the bush!

A Croton bush in the process of being devoured.
The inchworms sit on a completely defoliated Croton bush

1 comment:

dee said...

WOW!! Will the bushes recover? Is that all they ate?

Michigan State University | College of Natural Science