July 9, 2009

It’s raining caterpillars in Kamloops

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A massive caterpillar infestation in Kamloops, B.C. is killing Douglas fir trees, reports The Vancouver Sun. Tussock moth caterpillars have followed the pine beetle in the latest insect attack on trees in the region. Although pesticides and a virus deadly to this species do exist, the city and province don’t spray on private property, leaving residents on their own to deal with the infestations. The B.C. Forest Service says the trees can survive the attack, but won’t be green again for a few years. Although these insect attacks aren’t new to the region, some studies show climate change may be increasing the occurrence of infestations. This in turn kills more trees and reduces their ability to take in carbon and air pollutants, increasing the effects of climate change, as NPR’s John Nielsen relates in an an interesting twist on the story.

— InvestigateWest intern Emily Linroth

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