Swarms of caterpillars have invaded a corner of Shek O beach in the south of Hong Kong, prompting an expert to warn people not to touch them or risk allergies.
The worms have eaten almost all the leaves of a nearby tree and have taken to foraging in rubbish bins, Apple Daily reported Tuesday.
The Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) sprayed pesticides on the affected area last week after receiving complaints from residents. The area has been declared off-limits.
A cleaner said the caterpillars have been in the area for more than half a month and have been growing in number. They are expected to disappear naturally, LCSD was quoted as saying.
“There were caterpillars in the past, too, but not as many,” the cleaner said. “I have been in this job more than 10 years but I have not seen anything like this.”
The caterpillars are larvae of small tussock moths. They typically converge in one place to lay eggs, so it’s not unusual to see so many of them at one time, Yiu Vor, an insect expert at the Hong Kong Entomological Society, said.
Yiu warned people not to touch them as their hairs have toxins. He said LCSD should widen the cordoned area.
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