Moth outbreak stresses trees in New Mexico forests
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.