© 2022 KRWG
News that matters
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
FM Outage 10/07/2022

Moth outbreak stresses trees in New Mexico forests

A thinned and treated forest in the Sangre de Cristo mountains, near the Santa Fe watershed. To effectively protect against wildfire threats, the Forest Service needs to burn tree litter and other detritus that remain on the forest floor.
Sangre de Cristo mountains

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An insect outbreak is believed to be causing conifer stands in some central New Mexico forests to lose their needles. Officials with the Cibola National Forest say Douglas fir, white fir and even some ponderosa pine trees appear brown as the larvae of the tussock moth feeds on the previous year's needles. The caterpillars are native defoliators. Officials say the concern is that defoliation weakens the trees, making them vulnerable to subsequent attacks by bark beetles that may kill the tree tops or even entire trees. Officials also warned that touching the caterpillars could lead to skin reactions.