Limacodidae, Maldives Minimize

January 2006. A new problem has occurred on coconut in Maldives. Palm leaves are being severely attacked by this caterpillar. They eat the whole leaf, destroying the palm. It is serious, as a major part of the island is attacked and the problem is spreading fast. Eliminator, an insecticide containing diazinon + cypermethrin, has been used with the help of a spraying machine. After 3 days of spraying, there was not much improvement.

An additional problem is that the sprays are likely to kill the bioagents for Brontispa. There are approximately150 to 200 trees affected and in a serious condition. This caterpillar is attacking mostly at night.

One thought was that it was the Nettle caterpillar, Setoria nitens (or a related species); however, this was discounted, although it might belong to the Limacodidae.