Forest tent caterpillars have munched through thousands of acres of trees this year, but state officials don't expect the state's sugar maples to suffer any long term damage.
BENNINGTON, Vt. Forest tent caterpillars have munched through thousands of acres of trees this year, but state officials don't expect the state's sugar maples to suffer any long term damage.
Barbara Burns, a forest health specialist with the state Agency of Natural Resources, said the native, blue caterpillars defoliated 484,000 of the state's 4.6 million acres this summer.
It's the worst damage by the caterpillar on record since the state started keeping track in the mid-1950s, Burns said.
In Bennington County, the caterpillars devoured 65,887 acres, up from 13,767 acres last year.
Rutland County was hit the hardest, with 179,973 acres damaged. The caterpillars went through 119,227 acres Windsor County, 94,276 acres in Windham County and 14,566 acres in Addison County.
Washington, Orange, Lamoille, Grand Isle, Franklin, Chittenden, and Caledonia counties each had under 4,000 acres defoliated, with one county having only 65 acres damaged.
About 162,000 more acres were damaged this year than the previous record of 322,605 acres in 1982.
While many of the trees were leafless and brown a month ago, their leaves are returning, Burns said.
The caterpillar damage will fade, she said. The infestations tend to be cyclical and the insect has predators, she said.
The state is offering to assess a maple sugar maker's property for caterpillar egg masses and to inspect trees for damage this fall. The Agency of Natural Resources will also arrange for maple producers to have their sugarbushes sprayed with an organic pesticide to keep away the caterpillars.
Information from: Bennington Banner, http://www.benningtonbanner.com
Source: Associated Press