If you take a drive around the Southcoast you have probably seen quite a few trees missing quite a few leaves.

Many are pointing to a recent infestation of gypsy moths as the source of the problem. However, Mark Mello, research director at the Lloyd Center in Dartmouth, says they're not the only culprits.

"We had the winter moths, which were those little gray moths lying around in November and December, and they did an early job on the trees," said Mello "then the gypsy moths pretty much took over and finished the job in quite a few areas around here."

Mello says he believes that the worst is over and says most trees should be able to recover so long as its not a recurring event.

"If the trees don't get defoliated successively they can usually come back, they'll send out another set of leaves" says Mello "when they get defoliated year after year then that's a problem that can weaken and eventually kill the trees."

While it's too late to prevent an infestation for this year, Mello says there are some steps you can take to reduce the chance of an infestation next year.

"Look on the trunks and lower branches of the trees," says Mello "the females lay all their eggs in a mass that's kind of a cream color cotton looking thing, and you've got between now and next April to scrape them off the trees and get rid of them."

Mello also says that, based on the indicators he's seen so far, he doesn't expect next year's gypsy moth population to be as high as this year's.

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