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VDOF blames insect for defoliation

CHARLOTTESVILLE — The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) has received dozens of calls from homeowners concerned about the defoliation of hardwood trees on their properties due to the variable oakleaf caterpillar.

According to a press release from the VDOF, significant tree defoliation has been observed in Charlotte, Mecklenburg and Lunenburg counties.

“While it may attack a variety of hardwoods, its preference is white oaks,” officials said in a press release.

The release cited older larvae devour the entire leaf with the exception of the leaf stalk and the main veins while young larvae skeletonize the leaf.

According to the release, usually defoliation is less severe than trees being stripped bare. Most healthy trees will recover and do not suffer long-term damage.