Gypsy moths are causing more tree damage in New Jersey this year than last. 

Flickr User Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

The New Jersey Department of Agriculture conducted its statewide aerial defoliation survey which showed 2,887 acres of trees in 51 municipalities in 17 counties received moderate to severe damage this year from the leaf-eating invasive pests.

Last year, 1,068 acres of trees in 21 municipalities in 10 counties were defoliated by gypsy moths, which was the lowest recorded defoliation since the Department's Gypsy Moth Suppression Program began in 1970.

"While we have seen very low gypsy moth populations over the last few years, we must continue intense surveillance, as well as treatment to suppress this damaging insect," said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas Fisher.  "We will continue to partner with the state Department of Environmental Protection, counties and municipalities to protect our precious forested areas from being devastated by gypsy moth caterpillars."

The survey was conducted in late June and early July.  Tree damage was found in Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex and Warren counties.  The most damage was seen in Bloomingdale Borough and West Milford Township, both in Passaic County, where 1,087 acres of trees were heavily damaged.

Gypsy moth caterpillars lay their eggs on trees and emerge in May and early June.  This year, no spray program was needed.  An egg mass survey will be conducted in the fall to determine where spraying is warranted.

For details on the survey, click here.