Caterpillars defoliate hundreds of acres

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copyright the Chronicle June 29, 2016

by Tena Starr

About five or six weeks ago Bob Lawson noticed that the foliage on the maples in his sugarbush was looking a little ragged. Since then, hundreds of acres of the hillside in Albany and Irasburg where Mr. Lawson’s sugar maples are have been defoliated.

“There’s caterpillars everywhere,” Mr. Lawson said. “I’ve never seen that before.”

There are a number of other hot spots in the state, said Orleans County Forester Jared Nunery on Tuesday. But the caterpillar infestation on that particular hillside is likely the biggest in the state, he said.

“It’s well beyond the borders of Bob Lawson’s sugarbush now,” Mr. Nunery said. “It’s about 1,100 acres. It looks like the whole mountain is dying.”
The culprit is the forest tent caterpillar, whose population exploded this spring, resulting in countless acres of ash, maples, yellow birch, and beech foliage being gobbled up.

There is no particular reason for the millions of caterpillars this year, Mr. Nunery said. It’s part of a natural cycle. The forest tent caterpillar is not a foreign, invasive insect; it’s native to Vermont…To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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