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They're Everywhere! Swarms of Hungry Gypsy Moths Are Eating Trees Bare, Delaying Airlines

Jul 09, 2016 08:30 AM EDT

Alert! Swarms of gypsy moths are wreaking havoc in Massachusets, Rhode Island and Connecticut, with the hungry moths chewing away acres of trees and interfering airline flights.

According to The Sun Chronicle, entomologists say this is the worst moth invasion in 35 years. The crawlers have reportedly damaged stands of trees in F. Gilbert Hills State in Foxboro and have extended up to the Mass Pike.

George Boettner, a researcher of invasive pests from University of Massachusets, said approximately 100,000 acres of trees have been stripped naked by the gypsy moths in Massachusets alone.

"Gypsy moths are having an enormous, explosive year," said Boettner. "This is one of the worst (years) we've seen."

But who is the culprit for this massive gypsy moth invasion? Boettner says that it can be blamed on the weather.

The two consecutive dry springs, in particular, which hinders the growth of fungus that attacks the invasive pests.

In the 19th century, gypsy moths were accidentally introduced in Massachusets, and their numbers have been kept under control thanks to fungus, which only attacks gypsy moths and not other species.

Mark Bezreh, owner of ArborCare Tree Service, told Boston CBS that there's nothing we can do to control the damage.

"It’s a tough thing for the summer. There’s not much we can do about it, so people just have to be on guard for the following spring," he added.

However, the gypsy moths are not only chewing their way through trees but are also delaying planes. In Boston, Josh Derring, a producer at 98.5 The Sports Hub, tweeted that the moths have hindered plane passengers from getting off a plane for 20 minutes after it landed at Logan Airport. He even posted a photo of the swarms of gypsy moths hanging out in the jetway.

Kenn Gooch, head of the Massachusetts Forest Health Program, said the only hope to minimize the gypsy moth infestation is an unexpected rain in the coming weeks as the fungus that can kill these moths can only thrive in wet conditions. He added that the moths will be around for a couple of weeks while they are mating and will eventually die.

Boettner explained that the excessive occurrence of gypsy moths could also harm the environment by creating an imbalance in the ecosystem. If the infestation continues in the future, without a wet spring to counter it, the situation could create more damaging impacts to the environment.

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