I was at a graduation party over the weekend and it was raining. Not raindrops, but caterpillars. Specifically, gypsy moth caterpillars.
They were everywhere, dropping down on us from the trees and crawling on everything. As much of a nuisance as it was for the humans, imagine the trees! They are being eaten alive by this pest.
The caterpillars hatch in May and have a voracious appetite for about 300 different types of leaves.
When I was just a child, I remember an infestation that made headlines. In 1981, the furry critters gobbled up leaves at an alarming rate.
By the end of the summer, nearly 13 million acres of forest were defoliated- stripped of leaves. After that, efforts were stepped up to get rid of the pest. Since then, they have spread across the country, despite those efforts. There hasn’t been a deforestation like 1981 again, but judging by my own experience this weekend and some of the pictures I've seen lately, it may be upon us now.
This bug is a native of Europe and was imported in the 1800s by a man named Leopold Trouvelot. He was looking to breed a heartier silk worm. Can you guess where he was when he brought them here?
Lookin' at you, Medford!
Cox Media Group