Hundreds of dead trees due to gypsy moth caterpillar infestation

Hampden County

MONSON, Mass. (WWLP) – The gypsy moth caterpillar infestation of two summers ago has left a legacy of hundreds of dead trees in Eastern Hampden and Hampshire counties.

The Monson Highway Department has been forced to cut down 75 trees in recent weeks. The result of the gypsy moth caterpillar infestation during the summer of 2017. The caterpillars were also a terrible nuisance in the towns of Ware, Palmer, and Holland among others.

“Three-years-ago, we had a drought, and what happened was the gypsy moths thrive on drought conditions. They eat the leaves and the bugs come in from the bottom,” Ben Murphy said. “This is what happened to a 150-year-old tree.”

Monson Tree Warden Ben Murphy expects to cut down hundreds of caterpillar damaged trees in the next few years, out of concern they will eventually collapse.

But, there are new concerns on the horizon threatening western Massachusetts woodlands — the danger posed by insects called spotted lanternflies.

“Yes it is scary, they’re like ten times as bad as the gypsy moth caterpillars and they’re coming in Pennsylvania, making their way here,” said John. “Hopefully, they’ll stop before they get to Massachusetts.”

Coupled with the other Eastern Hampden and Hampshire County towns that faced the gypsy moth caterpillar problems two summers ago, it’s estimated the number of trees in jeopardy could conceivably number in the thousands.

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