Attack of the killer tent caterpillars

CHENANGO COUNTY Ė A steady look at the hillsides surrounding Chenango County reveals acres and acres of leafless trees. No, itís not frostbite. Itís an infestation of the forest tent caterpillar.

Forest tent caterpillars have a white, keyhole-shaped footprint down their furry backs. They donít actually build tents, and mainly consume the leaves of maple, ash and oak trees. They differ from the more common Eastern tent caterpillars which have stripes, do build tents and prefer cherry and apple trees.

A third type of insect, the gypsy moth caterpillar, is hairy with red and blue spots. They feast in the tops of trees, working their way down. While the gypsy has been devastating forests - mainly oak stands - in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Vermont this spring, so far none have appeared in Chenango County.

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