Crunch time for munch bunch

18:58, Feb 27 2014
HUNGRY CATERPILLARS: Harvee King Brookland, 8, hopes the 200-plus caterpillars that have stripped their swan plant can find new homes.

An army of hungry caterpillars has eaten an entire swan plant bush and is now looking for a new home.

The swan plant has been at the Kelliher residence for years but Debbie Kelliher has never seen it so full of caterpillars. Over 200 caterpillars have stripped the bush of any foliage, and are now moving on to neighbouring plants in the hunt for food.

"They demolish a plant in seconds. Compared to a week ago, there's nothing left," she said.

Mrs Kelliher has even put down pumpkin for them to eat because she had heard it was a good alternative.

"We've got to give them something, there's nothing left."

The family are now giving away the 150 baby caterpillars as there are too many to find food for.

"We need to get rid of them, (we) can't starve the poor things," she said.

The bigger caterpillars are starting to develop chrysalises on the swan plant. In order to stop those hanging from the plant being pushed off by those still feeding, Mrs Kelliher has moved and taped all the chrysalises to a nearby gate.


The Timaru Herald