Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk project (HEAR)

Hyposmocoma molluscivora
(a type of snail)

snail-eating caterpillar

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Species description or overview Taxonomy & nomenclature Images In the news Other resources

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Hyposmocoma molluscivora is native to Maui (Hawaii, USA). 

Species description or overview

The Application of Systematics (Daniel Rubinoff)
Daniel Rubinoff, a professor at the University of Hawaii, presents a summary of his work regarding the application of systematics. At the time of this writing, this page featured one of his lab's discoveries, Hyposmocoma molluscivora, a snail-eating caterpillar from Maui (Hawaii, USA).

Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) overview View info about Adobe Acrobat PDF format
An overview of Hawaii's moths and butterflies is provided by the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (Hawaii's Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy, 2005).

Taxonomy & nomenclature

Hyposmocoma molluscivora information from ITIS
The Integrated Taxonomic Information System ITIS provides authoritative taxonomic information on Hyposmocoma molluscivora, as well as other plants, animals, fungi, and microbes of North America and the world.


Snail-feeding Hawaiian caterpillars
Images of snail-feeding caterpillars from Hawaii are presented here.

In the news

Caterpillar spins a web to feast on snails
Researchers in Hawaii have discovered a bizarre caterpillar that captures its prey -- usually snails -- in a web much like a spider's. Then the caterpillar feasts on escargot. (All Things Considered, July 22, 2005)

Web-Spinning Caterpillar Stalks Snails
"Moths and butterflies compose one of the most diverse insect orders, but they are overwhelmingly herbivorous. Less than 0.2% are specialized predators, indicating that lepidopteran feeding habits are highly constrained. We report a Hawaiian caterpillar that specializes on snails, a unique food source requiring an unusual feeding strategy. The caterpillar uses silk to restrain live prey. All caterpillars have silk glands, but none are known to use silk in this spiderlike fashion. Considering the canalization of caterpillar diets, evolution to attack and feed on snails is an anomaly. Hawaii s isolation and consequently disharmonic biota likely promote evolutionary experiments that occur nowhere else." (This text is the article's abstract.)

Other resources

Media web links for Hyposmocoma molluscivora
Links to online articles/media regarding Hyposmocoma molluscivora (a snail-eating caterpillar from Hawaii) are provided at this site.

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The Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk (HEAR) project was historically funded by the Pacific Basin Information Node (PBIN) of the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) through PIERC (USGS) with support from HCSU (UH Hilo). More details are available online. Pacific Basin Information Node (PBIN) National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII)

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