Caterpillar attack

The Forestry Commission says tent caterpillars are crawling through 63,000 acres of hardwood swamps along the South Carolina coast.

Andy Boone with the Forestry Commission says about two million insects per acre are feasting on Wambaw Swamp in Charleston County, Hellhole Swamp in Berkeley County and Great Cypress Swamp in Dorchester County.

Boone says most of the trees survive and will send out new leaves. He says the biggest problem with the caterpillars is the nuisance. He says the pests can crawl down chimneys and eat plants.

This year's outbreak has largely been in unpopulated areas. The caterpillars eat tupelo leaves first, followed by sweet gum and oak. Then they move on to cottonwoods and grapes and then almost anything with green leaves.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)