MONTPELIER, Vt. — The Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation says experts are predicting widespread defoliation in the state’s forests this summer from infestations of forest tent caterpillars.

To protect some maple sap producing areas, 18 maple producing areas will be treated with an insecticide that is allowed for certified-organic production.

The tree damage caused by the insect can significantly reduce tree growth and hurt maple operations.

Experts say most of the damage expected this summer will be in forests across northeastern and central Vermont.

Forest tent caterpillars are native to North America, and prefer eating the leaves of sugar maple and ash trees.

Last year forest tent caterpillars defoliated 25,000 acres of forestland.

Most trees survive an infestation, but a significant outbreak can hurt trees.

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