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DEM predicts fewer gypsy moth caterpillars

Gypsy Moth Caterpillars (WJAR File Photo)

Rhode Island's Department of Environmental Management says there will be fewer gypsy moth caterpillars this year, but they could still cause widespread tree damage in isolated places.

"The spread of a fungus that's deadly to the gypsy moth has shrunk the population, but there will still be some hard-hit areas in the months ahead," a DEM news release said.

The DEM isn't anticipating widespread tree defoliation from the gypsy moth caterpillars, but there will be some localized areas where defoliation could be severe. Those areas include Providence and Washington counties.

The DEM said homeowners may want to consider using insecticides to control caterpillars on their property and minimize damage to trees.

"Most of the time when you have a problem with gypsy moths -- if it's minor a problem, your tree can sustain some of that defoliation without being damaged. It's when you have two, three, four years in a row where you have that bad defoliation that the trees may need repair or they may need to be treated by a professional tree company with an arborist on staff," said Tony DeJesus of Big Blue Bug Solutions.

Gypsy moth caterpillars caused widespread defoliation in 2016 and 2017.

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