The oaks at one of my favorite hiking spots look almost like they do in the dead of winter. This is the result of a catastrophic gypsy moth defoliation last year. If you look in the upper edges of the photo, you’ll see a tiny bit of foliage emerging. The gypsy moths have truly changed this ecosystem, and while we have been assured that most of the trees will recover, I’m not convinced. This year, the infestation is going to be just as bad, if not worse, and the caterpillars are hatching right now.
The change is dramatic. Where there was once normal forest duff, grasses are now flourishing because there’s no canopy to shade the ground.
One brighter spot on this otherwise discouraging hike was a wild dogwood blooming against a large boulder. What a gorgeous plant.
The blooms are a tender, greenish-white. So lovely against the foliage.
We also came across this Northern water snake. Apparently they spend time on land in the spring. This one was about two feet long but they can grow p to 42 inches, according to the state’s website. Lots of sun now, without the leaves.
There have been suggestions that the state should “spray” the gypsy moths, but that was done in the 1980s and it was not successful. If this continues to be a wet spring, a natural fungus that requires damp conditions in order to work might become active, in which case our problem will be solved. My fingers are crossed.
Nature is so amazing. The moths come for the trees and the fungus kills the moths. Mother Nature always finds a way.
I sure hope she does this year.
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