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Mangrove moths crawl into Navi Mumbai residential areas, create panic

A huge number of mangrove moths seen in the city has alarmed residents. The moths look like black caterpillars.
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Published on Oct 11, 2019 12:36 AM IST
By Padmja Sinha, Navi Mumbai

A huge number of mangrove moths seen in the city has alarmed residents. The moths look like black caterpillars.

Residents of Seawoods have said that moths are spotted everywhere on the society premises, leading to panic. They complained about rashes and redness when they come in contact with human body.

“I was surprised to see insects falling and flying. They were coming down on road in large numbers and falling on us, which causes itching and redness. I saw bikers falling when they saw the insect falling on them,” said Ramesh P, 35, a Nerul resident.

After worried residents informed the Nerul fire station about the moths, the officials used water to disperse them and push them back to the mangrove area.

An official from Nerul fire station said, “We got a call from residents about the insects. We saw a huge number of black caterpillars which are also known as mangrove moths.”

Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) health officials as well as forest officials too turned up at the housing societies and assured residents that they are harmless.

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DS Kukre, range forest officer, Navi Mumbai mangrove cell, said, “We have not received any complaint from residents regarding redness or itching. The caterpillars are harmless and after completing the cycle, they will die. The number is huge because of climatic change.”

Sameer Bagwan, who works for Navi Mumbai Municipal Transport (NMMT) who lives in Seawoods, said, “People are scared because they are seen in large numbers. Fire and health officials were called to ensure safety.”

According to entomologists, the moth is Hyblaea Puera, better known as teak defoliator and mangrove moth. It feeds on teak and 45 plant species, including mangroves.

Subhalaxami Vaylure, an entomologist known as moth lady, said, “They are mangrove moths and appear every year. They are harmless. They feed on mangrove leaves and are seen once monsoon is over. Because of extended monsoon, their life cycle has been extended this year.”

It is because of these moths that mangroves appear brown. They lay eggs on the undersurface of the leaf. They emerge a week later in brown wings. Once the life cycle is complete, they die and mangrove leaves turn green slowly,” said Subhalaxami.

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