Find out more about the very hungry caterpillars munching on Southeast Alaska’s hemlock trees


A bump of atypically brown-tinged hemlock trees is evident on Mount McGinnis —at least on the recently rare days that it’s visible from the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. When viewed through a pair of binoculars, or a strong enough zoom lens, it’s evident the trees are missing needles.

Similar discolored and patchy trees can be seen at other popular, local recreation areas, including the John Muir Trail, as well as locations further afield in Southeast Alaska, according to Elizabeth Graham, entomologist for the U.S. Forest Service.

In both cases, Graham said, the off-looking trees are the work of the same voracious insect —black-headed budworms.

“This is a natural

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