Gypsy Moth caterpillars keep trails closed in Hampton

HAMPTON, Conn. (WTNH) — Hikers are used to seeing color-coded trails, but the blue marks on trees at Trail Woods Sanctuary mean something very different.

The blue paint marks several weakened trees surrounding the writing cabin of Pulitzer Prize winning author, photographer, and naturalist Edwin Way Teale.

“This one clearly runs the risk of falling on the writing cabin,” explains Sarah Heminway, the director of Northeast Corner Programs for the Connecticut Audubon Society.

trail wood sanctuary 4 Gypsy Moth caterpillars keep trails closed in Hampton
(Photo: Tina Detelj/WTNH)

There are about ten miles of trails surrounding Teale’s former Hampton home and they’re usually open to hikers year round. But this winter, the trees defoliated by Gypsy Moth caterpillars will be taken down and Trail Wood Sanctuary will be off-limits starting December first.

“We really got hammered this summer and then again last summer and the summer before,” said Heminway.

trail wood sanctuary 3 Gypsy Moth caterpillars keep trails closed in Hampton
(Photo: Tina Detelj/WTNH)

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The Audobon Society owns the property.

“…Probably easily a third of the sanctuary was affected,” said Heminway.

The dangerous trees will be removed to try to keep hikers safer.

“There’s an old saying, they call them,  ‘widow makers,'” said Heminway. “Trees can be pretty dangerous if you’re not paying attention, if they’re weakened and they’re dropping branches.”

Tree crews are expected to be doing their work in January and February with the hope of making this a safer sanctuary come spring.

trail wood sanctuary 1 Gypsy Moth caterpillars keep trails closed in Hampton
(Photo: Tina Detelj/WTNH)

“It could be very expensive and that’s not an easy thing for a non-profit to swallow,” said Heminway.


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