A Valley News Publication

Hide yer trees, hide yer leaves.

A close up view of native forest tent caterpillars, which are responsible for defoliating thousands of acres of trees in Vermont from year to year. (Photo courtesy Vermont Fish & Wildlife)

From Vermont Fish & Wildlife today:

Forest tent caterpillars have hatched, according to forest health specialists from the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation. The insect is expected to cause widespread defoliation this summer, mostly in forests across northeastern and central Vermont.


Forest tent caterpillars are native to North America, and prefer eating the leaves of sugar maple and ash trees over other tree species. The tree damage caused by the insect can significantly reduce tree growth and impact maple tapping operations for Vermont sugarmakers, which contribute $140 million annually to the state’s economy.


In 2016, forest tent caterpillars defoliated 25,000 acres of forestland in the state. Most trees survive defoliation, even if they are defoliated several years in a row, but a significant outbreak can turnaround that trend.

Vermont Fish & Wildlife has some guidelines for protecting trees here.