Spongy Moths Chewed 45,000+ Acres of Litchfield County Forest in 2022
In May of this year, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection issued a cautionary press release to Litchfield County residents warning us that we should anticipate a huge invasion of Spongy Moths (the artist formally known as Gypsy Moths) during the summer of 2022. Boy, were they right.
The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, Connecticut Fish and Wildlife, and the CT DEEP have just announced that over 45,000 acres of Litchfield County forest has been impacted by those damn spongy moths over the summer. Even worse, an estimated 70% of those impacted trees are predicted to die.
HOW DO SPONGY MOTHS DAMAGE TREES?
If you saw a tree with multiple spongy moth caterpillar nests in it, it was probably doomed. Spongy moths defoliate trees, they eat all of the leaves off of them, and that takes away some of the tree's ability to photosynthesize. This leaves them vulnerable to drought, disease, and other hungry insects. There is some good news here, according to ct.gov, if the tree was healthy before it was defoliated, there's a good chance that the leaves regrew before the end of the summer. The bad news is that Connecticut was in a drought for most of the summer of 2022.
The silver lining out of this horrible loss is that Connecticut is on it. State workers are going to do some serious salvaging and timber harvesting over the next year or two. Clearing the land of dead wood will stimulate new growth, provide new habitat for wildlife, and the state will make a few bucks off of the sale of those heritage old-growth trees.
My grandfather would have been out there lighting up those nests with a cup of gas and a Camel. How things have changed since the 1970's.
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