Invasions of Hylesia metabus (Lepidoptera: Saturniidae, Hemileucinae) into Trinidad, West Indies


  • Perry Polar University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago.
  • Matthew J. W. Cock CABI, Bakeham Lane, Egham TW20 9TY, United Kingdom
  • Christian Frederickson Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC/PAHO/WHO) 16-18 Jamaica Boulevard, Federation Park, P.O. Box 164, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
  • Marianne Hosein Petroleum Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited, Point Fortin, Trinidad and Tobago.
  • Ulrike Krauss Forestry Department, Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Forestry and Fisheries, Union, Saint Lucia, West Indies.


Invasive species, mangrove, migration, lepidopterism, moth, Venezuela


Hylesia metabus (Cramer) is a saturniid moth of public health importance. Contact with the abdominal hairs of the adult females causes dermatitis, eye lesions and respiratory tract manifestations. It has been reported from the northern parts of South America, but not Trinidad. However, we have shown from specimen data that the moth is part of the natural fauna and widely distributed in Trinidad. On four occasions, between July, 2005 and May, 2006, H. metabus invaded the southwestern coastal communities of Trinidad. Since then, no invasions have been reported up to March, 2010. This paper reviews the published and grey literature on H. metabus, chronicles the movement of the moths and reports on its socio-economic impact on coastal communities in Trinidad. We postulate that the observed moths originated from South America rather than Trinidad and attempt to explain the frequency and timing based on biological, ecological and environmental factors. Possible management strategies are discussed.






Research Papers