An invasion of gypsy moth caterpillars has done significant damage to trees in the northwest corner of the state, according to the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES).
The invasive species of caterpillar are known for eating the leaves of many different types of trees, including red maple, birch, oak, beech, and Aspen trees. The ensuing defoliation of those trees leaves them vulnerable to diseases.
Experts with the CAES say the gypsy moth caterpillars have already defoliated roughly 25,000 to 30,000 acres of trees in northwestern Connecticut. Most of the damage is centered around the Town of Sharon.
“A repeat of this level of defoliation could result in the mortality of many of these mature trees,” said Station Forester Dr. Jeffrey Ward.
Gypsy moth populations usually decrease with the introduction of Entomophaga maimaiga, a fungus which requires moisture to infect the caterpillars.
“Spring and early summer rains in 2022 will be important in ending this outbreak,” said Dr. Kirby Stafford, Connecticut's state entomologist.
Connecticut last saw a widespread gypsy moth outbreak in eastern Connecticut in 2015. The tree damage then was exacerbated by a drought.