Moth Problem

To the Editor:

As Tree Warden in the Town of Marion, I have had many calls about dead trees. In actuality, the trees are not dead; they are just infested with caterpillars, both the winter moth and the gypsy moth – a double whammy year! The devastation is alarming and difficult to watch. Trees were stripped in the early spring by the winter moth that eats the young leaves and then the gypsy moth that finishes off what is left. I visited Evergreen Cemetery and the oaks are bare and every other species has been hit as well: birch, kousa, ash, maple, you name it. Caterpillars are all over the ground as well – yuck!

So what to do? It is too late to spray as that needs to happen in early spring by a licensed arborist. Now it is a wait-and-watch game to see if trees re-leaf. They will need extra water (which thankfully we are getting) and maybe some fertilizer later in the summer. These infestations go in cycles, so I do not know what to expect for next year but on my own property I spray and have not had a problem. I wish I could do that for the town, but it would eat up all of my budget and I can’t do select areas. I will try to stay on top of this, but it is very difficult to watch happen. Towns in Rhode Island are totally bare, so I guess we count our blessings.

Stay tuned,

Margie Baldwin, Tree Warden


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