The best color in years!
A cold front sweeps rain away, clouds break on the western horizon just before sunset, and the brown oaks are suddenly golden. Fall has it glorious moments!
Many trees in our area of eastern LI have been defoliated by this year’s brood of Gypsy Moth and Eastern Tent caterpillars. Oaks are their favorite, but many ornamental fruit trees are now also bare. This is the second year in what is typically a 2-3 year infestation, followed by a rapid drop in population. A roughly 10-year cycle of major infestation is common in this area of NY/New England.
Despite their almost total defoliation, most mature deciduous trees survive these three-year attacks (not so the conifers in the rare years they are infested). Indeed the oaks typically grow a new set of leaves in July after the May-June defoliation! So we are now witnessing a strange combination of pines and fully leafed maples interspersed with bare oaks, some sporting new leaves. Summer, Fall and a Second Spring all at one time!
The Pine Barrens are the Island’s last wilderness – now mainly in a 100,000 acre protected area of woodlands, ponds and streams in Riverhead and Brookhaven townships, the headwaters of the Peconic River and Bay. Pitch pine and oak thrive in the meager sandy soil, a remnant of the coastal forest that once stretched from Cape Cod, MA to Cape May, NJ.