Walking the trails of our forested landscape, we see the skeletal remains of a once-robust tree canopy, with dead and decaying remnants carpeting the forest floor. We are witnessing the extensive damage to our forest by successive invasions of gypsy moths in the summers of 2017 and 2018.
Gypsy moth caterpillars eat the leaves, and repeated defoliation kills the trees. Trees generally survive the first attack through a second growth of leaves later in the same summer, but repeated defoliation depletes the roots of essential nutrients supplied by the leaves, and the trees become too stressed to resist disease and thrive.
Weakened or broken branches are easily dislodged from the canopy, and pose a threat to those walking below. Hikers should be cautious when walking through weakened forest.
Substantial accumulation of the resultant debris on the forest floor increases the hazard for forest fires, especially considering the very flammable clumps of fungus (aka “old man’s beard”) attached to the bark of many of these trees. We use these clumps in place of paper as a fire starter in our wood stove. They are a fire hazard.
George and Sue Tremblay