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Attack of a crawling menace
Gypsy moth caterpillars have stripped bare an estimated 1.6 million acres of New Jersey and Pennsylvania trees in the last three months - the worst defoliation in 17 years.
As the destructive pests finish their annual feast and move to the next phase of their metamorphosis, officials in both states say recent airplane inspections have revealed staggering damage. The fuzzy caterpillars have turned brown an area the size of Delaware, leaving miles of forest exposed to increased fire risk and government officials arguing whether enough was done to prevent the devastation.
This year's caterpillars were so voracious that they gobbled the needles off pine trees and the leaves from trees they usually find unappetizing.