Friday, April 15, 2011

Plague of Caterpillars Descends on Bali

DENPASAR

A plague of poisonous caterpillars that have destroyed orchards and invaded homes in East Java in recent weeks has now reached Bali, officials say.

The caterpillars, which are believed to belong to the moth family, were first recorded in Buleleng regency, and have since been spotted in Tabanan and Denpasar.

Putu Mertha Jiwa of the Buleleng Agriculture Department said the caterpillars had been discovered in mango plantations in the north Bali regency.

Jiwa said that officials from the department would take measures to combat the infestations with pesticides. He warned residents to avoid touching the caterpillars.

“The caterpillars’ hair will cause intense itching of the skin,” he said.

The insects have been found in mango orchards in the Sawan and Gerokgak districts of Buleleng.  Nyoman Madra, a farmer from Tukadmungga village in Buleleng, said that he had first spotted the caterpillars last week.

“Because of their numbers, the mango leaves have started to fall off,” he said.

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