Gypsy moth infestation, damage to trees down in New Jersey

 A gypsy moth caterpillar eats a leaf on a tree in Trenton, N.J. State officials say the gypsy moth population has been cut significantly. And damage to trees is less than half of what is was  in 2013, they said. (AP file photo/Mel Evans)

A gypsy moth caterpillar eats a leaf on a tree in Trenton, N.J. State officials say the gypsy moth population has been cut significantly. And damage to trees is less than half of what is was in 2013, they said. (AP file photo/Mel Evans)

A big pest is becoming less of a problem in New Jersey.

An aerial survey by the state Department of Agriculture has found that tree damage caused by gypsy moth caterpillars this year is less than half of what it was in 2013.

 

Control efforts have succeeded in cutting the numbers of those pesky caterpillars, said Joe Zoltowski with the department’s bureau of plant pest and disease control.

“There are parasites and predators that our department has released way back in the ’70s. They could be keeping the levels in check,” he said. “There’s also a fungus and, if it’s moist, the spores work and they actually kill the caterpillars off.”

That dead standing timber increases the risk of fires, devalues properties, and poses a safety hazard from falling trees, Zoltowski said.

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