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Giving Tuesday update: So far today more than 1,500 members have raised more than 23,000 meals for the Vermont Foodbank! Donate by midnight and your gift will be matched with 15 meals to the Vermont Foodbank via the Vermont Community Foundation and its generous fund holders. It's easy to give right here. Thank you!

They're baaaack: Spongy moth caterpillars return with new name, same drama

Dozens of brown furry caterpillars, close together, climb up a tree trunk.
Invasive spongy moth caterpillars can harm trees and cause rashes for human.

Live call-in discussion: Many Vermonters are noticing an influx of spongy moth larvae on their trees — and in some cases, on their bodies. Recent dry conditions limited the presence of a fungus that naturally kills the invasive species, leading to an overabundance of the tiny caterpillars that chomp through the leaves of deciduous trees.

The moth, known by the scientific name Lymantria dispar, went through a rebranding earlier this year as part of the Entomological Society's Better Names Project. Its previous name contained a racial slur.

This hour, we speak with an insect expert and a forester about what this year’s infestation means for Vermont’s deciduous trees. We'll also share some tips for keeping the pests at bay.

Our guests are:

  • Judy Rosovsky, state entomologist, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets
  • Tim Smith, city forester and arborist, Rutland

Broadcast live at noon on Wednesday, May 18, 2022; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or tweet us @vermontedition.

Mikaela Lefrak joined Vermont Public in 2021 as co-host and senior producer of Vermont Edition. Her stories have aired nationally on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, Marketplace, The World and Here & Now. A seasoned local reporter, Mikaela has won two regional Edward R. Murrow awards and a Public Media Journalists Association award for her work.
Tedra joined Vermont Public as a producer for Vermont Edition in January 2022. Before moving to Vermont, she was a journalist in New York City for 20 years. She has a master’s degree in journalism from New York University.