By the Chilkat Valley News Sitka Sentinel
and Wrangell Sentinel 

Peak budworm infestation eats its way through Southeast forest


Photo courtesy Elizabeth Graham / U.S. Forest Service

A western blackheaded budworm larva, hanging by silk thread for dispersal in the forest.

Look around Southeast and you will see a lot of evergreen trees that aren't so green. 

Southeast Alaska's hemlock and spruce trees are fending off an assault by a number of pests and diseases, most notably a caterpillar that causes the conifers to turn reddish-brown.

The main culprit is the western blackheaded budworm, a moth caterpillar that feeds on hemlock and spruce needles, according to U.S. Forest Service Alaska Region entomologist Elizabeth Graham in Juneau. 

Graham said Southeast trees are experiencing a peak budworm infestation, a cyclical event that occurs every 30 or 40 years....

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