First report of an unsual insect species in Hungary: Acharia stimulea
In 2007, larvae of Acharia stimulea (syn. Sibine stimulea, Lepidoptera: Limacodidae) were found at Miskolc in Hungary (Garai and Gyulai, 2008). A. stimulea is a polyphagous species which originates from the Eastern part of North America. Larvae feed on leaves of many host plants, including broadleaved trees and shrubs (e.g. Castanea, Citrus, Prunus, Quercus, Tilia, Ulmus, Viburnum), palm trees, herbaceous weeds and ornamental plants (e.g. Astilbe, Dahlia, Canna, Phlox). In the USA, damage to plant is generally insignificant and A. stimulea is not considered as an important plant pest. Adults are dark brown, stout-bodied moths. Larvae of A. stimulea have a striking appearance, they are brown with a bright lime-green area in the middle of the body. This green area has a white margin and a large oval dot in the middle, resembling a ‘saddle’ and a ‘blanket’, hence the common name ‘saddleback moth caterpillar’. In addition, larvae have four very prominent horns with numerous spines, as well as smaller ones on both sides and rear of the body. These spines are connected to poison glands. A. stimulea can be a nuisance to humans because the contact of its spines with the skin is very painful and causes severe inflammation.
In addition to Hungary, the presence of A. stimulea has been reported from several other European countries (Germany, Poland, Sweden, United Kingdom) but it seems that these occasional records were linked to imports of ornamental plants and that the insect has not been able to establish.
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Garai A, Gyulai P (2008) [The appearance of the saddleback caterpillar moth (Acharia (=Sibine) stimulea (Clemens, 1860)) pest species in Hungary (Lepidoptera: Limacodidae)]. Növényvédelem 44(5), 226-228 (in Hungarian).
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Labanowski G, Soika G (2002) [The present problems in ornamental plant protection against pests]. Progress in Plant Protection 42(1), 188-195 (in Polish).
INTERNET (last retrieved in 2009-02)
BBC News (2003-02-24). US caterpillar found in Somerset. http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/uk_news/england/2794333.stm
Portal für Schmetterlinge/Raupen (Germany). http://www.schmetterling-raupe.de/art/stimulea_s.htm