SALEM — The phones are ringing as landowners in Oregon's Willamette Valley call state and local agencies to inquire about trees that appear to be dying.
The Statesman Journal reports that state Forestry Department entomologist Rob Flowers says a native moth called the western oak looper is the culprit.
He says the moths attack Douglas firs and oak trees and can eat nearly all a tree's leaves, making it look scorched or like autumn has arrived early.
Flowers says the outbreak hits the valley about every 15 years. This year's outbreak is centered around the Sheridan area south of Monmouth and east to Silverton and Stayton.
While the infestation looks bad, Flowers says oaks usually suffer minor damage. Even Douglas firs that appear to be dead could still be healthy and produce a normal crop of needles next year.