The New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s annual aerial survey of New Jersey conducted between June 17 and June 29 showed a major increase in tree damage from gypsy moth caterpillars this year. An estimated 290,696 acres of trees in 175 municipalities in 20 counties were defoliated as compared to 1,330 acres in 24 towns in 11 counties in 2014.
Most of the tree damage was in the seven northernmost counties in the state, with the highest concentrations in Sussex, with 108,882 acres; Passaic with 61,386 acres; and Morris with 60,699. The hardest hit towns were West Milford in Sussex County with 40,632 acres of trees defoliated and Jefferson Township in Morris County with 22,562 acres.
“The Department of Agriculture’s intense surveillance program is designed to keep gypsy moth populations at bay,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher. “When populations increase dramatically like this year, we will aggressively survey to determine the severity of next year’s gypsy moth problem and recommend spraying in areas where it is warranted.”