Hairy caterpillars swarm over parts of Indonesia
Caterpillars crawl over a leaf in Denpasar on the Indonesian island of Bali on Wednesday.
April 13th, 2011
08:38 AM ET

Hairy caterpillars swarm over parts of Indonesia

Parts of Indonesia are under siege by swarms of hairy caterpillars, which are getting into homes and causing skin rashes, according to local news reports.

“The caterpillars are very disturbing. They crawl into the house and make our skin itch for days. They have long hairs,” a Jakarta resident identified as Nurhayati told the Jakarta Globe.

A caterpillar swarm was first reported in East Java two weeks ago, according to the Globe, and new swarms have been observed in Bekasi, West Java, and Buleleng, Bali.

The caterpillars are targeting the leaves of mango trees in Bali, according to a Bali Times report.

Bali agricultural chief Made Putra Suryawan said Wednesday that authorities there are spraying insecticide and burning garbage to stop the spread of the insects, according to an Agence France Presse report on

Suryawan said the species of caterpillars had not yet been identified. Their elevated numbers could be caused by a lack of predators, he said in the AFP report.

“There’s a reduction in the number of birds and ants that feed on these caterpillars. People catch the birds to sell them and catch the ants to feed their pet birds,” Suryawan is quoted as saying.

One politician has his own theory about the caterpillar swarm, according to the Jakarta Globe: It's a warning from God.

“Yes, it was God’s warning,” House of Representatives Speaker Marzuki Alie of the ruling Democratic Party said at the assembly. “It is God’s warning that we should introspect and make changes. Every incident has a meaning behind it.”

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Filed under: Animals • Indonesia • World
soundoff (69 Responses)
  1. Joey

    I warned you about the caterpillars, but I'm willing to offer you a new Covenant.

    April 13, 2011 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Don't bug me man

      My 3rd ex-wife was a hairy worm that caused all sorts of problems. more problem.

      April 13, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Go Ask Alice

      My favorite caterpillar was the one sitting on the mushroom smoking a hukka full of magic ganja in Alice in Wonderland.

      April 13, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amy

      Third ex wife? Wow, you must be some catch.

      April 13, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • TC

      don't even get him started on the women who he's still married to...

      April 13, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Dim Mak

    I love these snake oil salesmen. Lol They take any weird event and make it a doomsday prophecy. I had a dream about the end of the world, so maybe it's true....

    April 13, 2011 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Uneducated Voter

      But this one was DEMOCRAT! The world MUST be ending!

      April 13, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Sue

      @uneducated Voter – your name = truth in advertising. You probably DVR'd every Glenn Beck show.

      April 13, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • David Miller

      I'd say any environmental imbalance is cause for some concern. Why does our planet's health have to be a partisan issue? When you get sick, do you curse yourself for being "liberal?" Insanity.

      April 13, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Harry

      Every thing is for a purpose Check this out and pass it on to all your peeps;

      April 14, 2011 at 1:09 am | Report abuse |
  3. Blue Kapampa

    ..If it is not terror threats, it is caterpillar threats...

    April 13, 2011 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
  4. Mmmmm

    They are not treating the trees and maintaining their trees...I've been seeing this "unidentified" species for years really since childhood...

    April 13, 2011 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
  5. Lindy Ruff's Beard

    Go Sabres!

    April 13, 2011 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Unggit

      I 2nd that! Go, Go, GO Sabres!
      From 14051

      April 13, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • belky


      April 14, 2011 at 6:19 am | Report abuse |
  6. concerned citizen

    well i have my own 'hairy caterpillar'

    April 13, 2011 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
    • birdnerd

      Does it cause itching and rashes? Ewwww!

      April 13, 2011 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  7. Epitope

    Lack of common sense. They have reduced the predator population and the caterpillar population has soared. No prophecy is required for an explanation. Geez...I think the caterpillars are more intelligent than the Indonesians.

    April 13, 2011 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Indonesians

      please don't mind that person... even we in Indonesia make fun of him...

      April 14, 2011 at 6:06 am | Report abuse |
  8. Sam

    This variety of catterpillar gives the worst itches. It goes on for days and applying coconut oil to affected area is a good remedy. Its either Gypsy Moth Caterpillar or something similar to it.

    April 13, 2011 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • yashca

      They are not Gypsy Moth Caterpillars. Gypsy moth caterpillars have black heads and though they have long hairs on them they aren't as hairy as the ones in the picture. Also I've never felt itchy after handling them and as a kid we'd catch them all the time.

      April 13, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • chieko

      looks like a member of the tussock moth family

      April 13, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. alboze

    "There’s a reduction in the number of birds and ants that feed on these caterpillars"
    So get the insecticide out and kill the rest of the birds and ants so they no predators, that'll work!

    April 13, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  10. They're Everywhere

    “Yes, it was God’s warning,” Good grief! They have them down there too?

    Regardless, in that part of the world sooner or later somebody will figure out either how to make some sort of caterpillar soup or suddenly realize that the insects are actually quite tasty with a little sambal kecap manis mixed in.

    End of problem.

    April 13, 2011 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  11. citizenUSA

    Not a sign from god but it is from Mother Earth.

    April 13, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Burbank

      Absolutely right! The elephant in the room that's the root cause of almost all our environmental problems: Overpopulation! Overpopulation! Overpoputlation! We are breeding out of control and destroying this planet like a plague of locusts – or hairy caterpillars!

      April 13, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  12. rock

    dammit obama

    April 13, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Todd

    Remember the gypsy moth outbreak in the early 80's. These look like a cousin of that.

    April 13, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lola

      They look a lot like oak moths, too.

      April 13, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  14. me


    April 13, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Lola

    Message from God? To quote from a pretty good song, "It's nature"s way of telling you/Something's wrong." Time for indonesians to stop capturing wild animals for the pet trade, and spraying insecticides at everything that isn't marketable or edible.

    April 13, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Burbank

      And breeding out of control themselves.

      April 13, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
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