Oak trees depleted by gypsy moth caterpillars, who are moving on to maple trees and witch hazel

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HARTFORD — Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said gypsy moth caterpillars continue to hit oaks hard in parts of eastern and central Connecticut.

As their larvae deplete the oaks, they are moving on to feed on other tree species, such as maples and witch hazel, according to DEEP.

DEEP said the maimaiga fungus has been reported in several towns, with initial reports of some beginning levels of die-off of the gypsy moths.

The major die-off expected from the fungus has not yet been observed, but it is anticipated shortly. The cool weather earlier in the spring appears to have slowed the growth rate of the caterpillars and so delayed their moving in large numbers from the crowns of the trees down into the soil, where they will encounter the fungal spores.

Now that warmer weather has arrived and the larvae are getting larger, we can expect more movement and more caterpillars getting infected, which will accelerate the spread of the fungus and the rate of larval mortality, according to DEEP.