Looper damage hits trees on Sleepy Creek
Readers have noticed a big swath of trees along Sleepy Creek Mountain have turned brown or lost their leaves in recent weeks.
Damage to the trees is expected to be temporary, and comes from a regional outbreak of “loopers” or canker worm, said forest entomologist
Tim Tomon of the West Virginia Department of Agriculture.
His department was expected to fly over Sleepy Creek Mountain this week to map the tree damage, Tomon said.
He has already seen similar outbreaks in Hardy County and elsewhere in the Eastern Panhandle.
Tomon said local trees probably won’t die as a result of the canker worm attack, unless the trees are already stressed by other conditions like drought or gypsy moth damage.
Canker worms, or loopers, eat holes in the leaves of a wide variety of trees, stripping the trees of foliage between April and mid-June, in most places. Luckily, the worms don’t generally do permanent
“In some places, there’s already been refoliation,” Tomon said.
The Dept. of Agriculture doesn’t typically spray for the canker worm as it
does for gypsy moths, Tomon said.
They do set up traps on public land and on select private parcels to
control and track the worm.
Traps are generally sticky adhesives that capture the females as they climb up the trunk of trees.
A parasite that kills
the canker worm will rebound enough to control the worm, often within a cycle of a year or two, Tomon said. “We just kind of let it run its course,” he said.