Mangrove Die-off Update

Dead mangroves















We posted recently our first thoughts regarding mangrove die-off in
The Marls (see here and here).  After the visit, we got some feedback
from mangrove herbivory expert Ilka C. Feller – see her email after the
jump.  She speculates something we also did before our recent visit.

Her email….

There are several species of Lepidoptera residents in the mangroves including the mangrove skipper, a very lovely little butterfly. Phocides has very distinctive larvae with even more distinctive behavior and feeding patterns. There are some moths as well, but they should be readily identifiable even based on leaf damage patterns. Some of the damage on the leaves in the photographs in the website you sent look like they could have been made by the mangrove tree crab Aratus pisonii.


There are documented outbreaks of Phocides pigmalion in mangroves.  But, that dieback of the mangrove site in Abaco does not look like an insect outbreak.  With that extent of dead trees, you should look for abiotic causes, e.g., changes in hydrology, sedimentation, etc. Are there any development activities in the area that have changed the flow of water into or out of this site?  Phocides eats leaves only; it does not eat the buds or kill the trees. Something else is going on at that site


Candy Feller



Ilka C. Feller


Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

647 Contees Wharf Rd.

Edgewater MD 21037

Telephone: 443.482.2269

Fax: 443.482.2380


By | 2017-12-01T14:04:15-05:00 March 1st, 2013|Categories: Invertebrates, Mangroves and Creeks, Uncategorized|0 Comments

About the Author:

Craig Layman
My lab’s interdisciplinary pursuits provide for a multi-faceted understanding of environmental change in the coastal realm. We are ecologists, asking questions that span population, community, ecosystem and evolutionary sub-disciplines. We often use a food web based perspective, exploring top-down (e.g., predation) and bottom-up (e.g., nutrient excretion) mechanisms by which animals affect ecosystem processes. All of our efforts are framed within a broader outreach framework, directly integrating science and education, using approaches such as this website.

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