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MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Specialists at the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation say tent caterpillars are expected to cause defoliation again this summer in maple forests across the state.

The caterpillars have hatched and will continue feeding through June.

The caterpillars prefer sugar maple and ash but can feed on other tree species as well.

Last year they defoliated 60,000 acres of forestland, affecting every county in the state.

Defoliation reduces tree growth and can have an impact on maple tapping for syrup production, but most trees will survive even if they are defoliated several years in a row.

Forest tent caterpillars are native to much of North America, including Vermont.