The Very Hungry Caterpillars
Will the destructive spongy moths that wreaked havoc on Saratoga trees last year be back in 2023?
As someone who spends a fair deal of time in the woods, last year’s outbreak of spongy moths really affected me.
ICYMI: Early last summer, the Saratoga region saw an outbreak of the invasive species the likes of which it hadn’t seen since the early 1980s. The moths start off as caterpillars—the real nuisance—which can be seen swarming trees like in the photo above or dangling down from branches on strands of silk, ready to land on you when you’re, say, mountain biking. As the caterpillars grow, they feast on tree leaves, in some cases completely defoliating them, as they did around the tennis courts in the Spa State Park. And, since they eat so much—a single mature caterpillar can consume up to one square foot of leaf surface in a single day—they produce a lot of waste or “frass,” a disgusting substance that notably covered the Saratoga Dog Park last year. Yeah, I told you I’m bitter.
While spongy moths aren’t really a flashy “after hours” topic, they undeniably affect my (and many other Saratogians’) after-hours activities. And since last year was the second year in a row this area saw an outbreak of the pests, there’s been one question on my mind: Will they be back in 2023?
It turns out, they already are.
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