Painful Encounters with Caterpillars of Megalopyge lanata (Stoll), (Lepidoptera: Megalopygidae) in Tobago, Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies

Perry Polar, Matthew J.W. Cock, Tamika L. Seales

Abstract


Shinney is a colloquial term used to describe a hairy caterpillar in Trinidad and Tobago. There have been at least four instances in 2010 in which people were envenomated by shinneys in the Bon Accord region of Tobago. We have identified the species as Megalopyge lanata (Stoll) (Megalopygidae), which has been reported in the literature from Trinidad, but only noted in unpublished data from Tobago. The moths are likely to be originating from the mangroves around the Bon Accord Lagoon, which is a protected area (Ramsar site) and have repeatedly appeared on tropical almond trees at the Pigeon Point Beach Facility and hence are a concern to the local tourism industry. We discuss the current management practices and appropriate future actions that should be both effective and environmentally sensitive.

Key words: Erucism, moth, Pigeon Point, shinney, Terminalia catappa.


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