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Mild winter causes major caterpillar problems in Northeast forests

The Capital Weather Gang posted a very interesting story this week about one impact of the mild winter on forests in New England.  The lack of really cold conditions (due in part to the strong El Niño that just ended) allowed millions of gypsy moth eggs to survive.  When spring arrived, they hatched and infested vast areas of the region.

One interesting weather-related fact is that where they had more rain in spring, the number of moths is less because the rain helped improve the growth of a certain kind of fungus — entomophaga maimaiga — that serves as a natural “predator” for the gypsy moth caterpillar.  The story indicates that the lines between areas with rain and those with little rain show stark differences in tree condition and number of caterpillars seen.

You can read the story here.

Source: Jeffrey A. Mai, U.S. Forest Service via Commons Wikimedia

Source: Jeffrey A. Mai, U.S. Forest Service via Commons Wikimedia