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. tdyyy1613

    a jar of gypsy tears will cure it.

    April 13, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Burbank

    Isn't that just a little off topic and inappropriate here? Do you have itchy hairy caterpillars in your pants?

    April 13, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ambot

    We do have this kind of caterpillar back in the Philippines and it gives me hives and hard time breathing. That's not good if there's so much of them now.

    April 13, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Alexishere

    When the House of Representatives Speaker says swarms of caterpillars are God's way of warning people to "introspect" you can see a real problem. They're caterpillars, people....bugs, insects, part of nature. If they're showing up in record numbers it's not because God wants innocent people to have rashes, it's because there's plenty of food and not enough natural predation. Quit trapping the gorgeous birds that eat the bugs and find more humane source of income than trading in black market exotic animals. Idiots.

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

      yes, he is... not us...

      April 14, 2011 at 6:08 am | Report abuse |
  5. dougbiker

    It does look like Gypsy Moth caterpillars. Also somewhat resembles the Eastern Tent Caterpillar

    April 13, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. simon

    This species moves very very slowly. When I was young, I was so afraid of this but realized this is very cute. Sometimes I brushed its hair like my dog. Of course, because of its venomous hair, it hurt my finger but this caterpillar doesn't bite anyone. The worst caterpillar bug is not this one. The fast moving house centipede is really making problems.

    April 13, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. newbie

    I saw these insects in Silver Spring, MD last year. I am living in this country for the 20 years and I never saw before here. I saw these back in my country in summer time. They stay in other trees and never saw in mango tree.

    April 13, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Gumby

    gives a whole new meaning to the phrase: "trick or trees" !! LOL

    April 13, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Dave

    Burning garbage?!

    April 13, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • CG

      In Indonesia, they burn garbage everyday, regardless of caterpillars.

      April 13, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  10. angela

    Cnn must be bored again with these stupid stories...GOOOO YANKEES

    April 13, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  11. SoCalDave727

    They look like the caterpillars that swarm in the Pacific Northwest every few years. There have been years where it gets so bad and there are so many of them on the roads that cars slide off the roads; can't stop, and crash.

    April 13, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dana

    "catch the ants"? Really?!

    April 13, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Indonesians

      Yes... Song birds are fed with ants larva...

      April 14, 2011 at 6:10 am | Report abuse |
  13. Gumby

    maybe if they go *pee-pee* on the caterpillars, it will kill them?!?

    April 13, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. sara

    I saw so many caterpillars in my roses bush yesterday when I came back home. they ate almost all leaves. and made me in trouble.

    April 13, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Patrick Williams

    This same issue was apparent a few weeks ago in Florida. However, the Tussock's were the culprits. Several of us develop itchy, patchy skin rashes after a weekend of camping.

    April 13, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
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