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Monday, December 5, 2011

Tree-stripping winter moths creep into MetroWest

They look innocent now, fluttering among the trees and street lamps. But come spring, the winter moths' green, squirming offspring will be devastating the region's tree populations.

State and local experts are worriedly watching the invasive species as it spreads from the east into MetroWest, where the moth's ravenous larvae have already started to thin oaks, maples and cherry trees. Aerial surveillance this past year showed large swaths of bare trees in towns including Wayland, Sudbury and Framingham, said Ken Gooch, Forest Health Program director at the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.

"Some of the most defoliated areas (in the state) were those areas," he said. "The whole MetroWest got hit pretty hard."

Bill Joseph, an arborist at Lynch Plant Healthcare in Wayland, said he's seen the pests nearly double in number over the past year.

"I've seen them as far west as (Rte.) 85," he said. "It used to be intermittent - contained to certain neighborhoods. Now I'm seeing them almost everywhere I go."

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Tree-stripping winter moths creep into MetroWest

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