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July 21, 2011

The state seems to be winning the battle against gypsy moths, which defoliate and eventually destroy trees in residential and forested areas. This year, gypsy moth caterpillars damaged 1,317 acres of trees in 68 municipalities and 17 counties.

State Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher deemed the damage heavy, but it's a far cry from 2009, when 91,890 acres were damaged. That year, which followed a devastating 2008 when 339,240 acres were affected, the state began an aggressive spray program. As a result, the Garden State has seen a steady decline in damage. Still, Fisher says the moths remain a serious problem and the state will remain vigilant in order to prevent a resurgence.

It takes two to three years of consecutive damage to kill a tree that's been defoliated by gypsy moths, which weaken trees so they are susceptible to other harm. Gypsy moths have led to the death of about 30,000 acres of trees in the Garden State since 2006.

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