BOSTON (AP) — Forestry officials are warning of significant tree defoliation in Massachusetts this spring caused by the invasive winter moth.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Rod Fritz reports

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Federal and state officials say a heavy and widespread moth flight in the state in November and December means more defoliation over a larger area.

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The defoliation is caused when the wingless females climb up the trunks of hardwoods such as maples and oaks and lay eggs. The green inchworm larvae then do the damage, stripping leaves to their skeletons and damaging the trees. They start feeding as soon the trees start to bud.

Winter moths defoliated about 80,000 forested acres in Massachusetts last year, mostly in the eastern part of the state. Winter moths have also been detected in Rhode Island, southern New Hampshire and eastern Connecticut.

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Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.