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Native moth species causing koa defoliation

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 09:19 a.m. HST, Feb 15, 2013

HILO » State officials say many trees in mature koa forests of East Hawaii are losing their leaves due to a sudden, sharp increase in a native moth population.

Koa trees between 2,000 and 4,000 feet above sea level in the Hilo and Hamakua regions appear to be affected.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources said Thursday caterpillars of the koa looper moth are eating the leaves. But department Chairman William Aila says past experience shows koa forests can recover from such outbreaks.

The first outbreak documented in writing occurred in 1892. But oral accounts indicate similar events occurred before.

Nearly 25,000 acres of forest are currently affected.

The department is asking people to report koa defoliation and increased caterpillar or moth abundance observed outside the Hilo and Hamakua areas.

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1local wrote:
hopefully it doesn't start laying eggs on kalo..
on February 15,2013 | 09:26AM
Hapa_Haole_Boy wrote:
I wonder how the forest has recovered from past such incidents. And I wonder if there is any natural predator/counterbalance to these moths. Otherwise... call Treebeard!
on February 15,2013 | 11:12AM
AniMatsuri wrote:
I wonder if this moth is on or close being on an endangered list. Most native plants and animals are.
on February 15,2013 | 11:30AM
Anonymous wrote:
and this is how DLNR wastes its time, money and news releases on - studying a natural process that they can't do anything about. Why ask people to report defoliage? Watcha gonna do? Even Aila says the forest can recover on its own. How about working on all the real threats to the Hawaiian forest????
on February 15,2013 | 01:31PM
palani wrote:
Cannot be! Only "invasive" species (read: humans, starting sometime before 1000 A.D.) can cause harm to "endemic", or "native" species.
on February 15,2013 | 01:49PM
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