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Posted: May 14, 2011 7:59 a.m.

Caterpillar outbreak threatens Georgia oaks

ATHENS - University of Georgia researchers are tracking an outbreak of caterpillars that pose a threat to the health of oak trees in the state.

The black-dotted brown moth has been found in counties near Athens, but researchers are worried the pests are spreading across Georgia.

Kamal Gandhi, an assistant professor of forest entomology at the UGA, identified the leaf-eating caterpillars with the help of University of Connecticut researcher David Wagner.

The caterpillars are dark grayish-brown caterpillars with thin white lines on both sides. They weren't considered pests until now, but they are to blame for defoliating a large white oak tree near Athens in just four days last year.

Researchers say burlap bands placed around the trunk of the tree can stop the pests from spreading into the canopy.


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