Thursday, September 22, 2016

Now you see it, now you don’t: Northeastern forests in the wake of the gypsy moth outbreak

Karla Salp
Pest Program 

Cruising along the freeway in Connecticut, lush, mid-summer leafy green forests suddenly changed:  green leaves were sprouting from the trees like springtime and light was streaming through what should have been shady forests.

I pulled off at the next exit and confirmed my suspicions: gypsy moth females laying eggs on trees at my first stop.

The defoliation of the Northeastern forests has been astounding. Hundreds of thousands of acres have been completely defoliated by gypsy moth caterpillars – for the second year in a row.

Driving through Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts recently, I witnessed mile after mile of trees that, if not for the extreme heat and humidity, would have made one think it was March or April, rather than the end of July.

I didn’t go up in a plane, but I was able to obtain some aerial photos of the extent of the damage from the state agencies where the damage occurred:

Unlike our local tent caterpillars and fall webworms, gypsy moths have the capacity to defoliate entire forests. It was something to behold and I was glad to have to travel across the country to see it, rather than witnessing this damage in our own forests.