Consistent with its journalistic standards, the Tribune's reporter looked at the tree with his own eyes. He had clear sight of many healthy, green leaves. The above photo documents just some of the tree's many healthy, green leaves
Tribune reporters are trained not to be satisfied with what they see merely with their own eyes. They also interview experts to provide authoritative quotes that give gravitas to news stories. In the course of investigating this story, the Tribune's reporter contacted an Arlington Regional Master Naturalists. The Master Naturalist wrote:
They don't do too much damage, because by the time they are done and gone, the tree has a chance to produce new leaves to replace any that they ate. Rarely, if a tree has tremendous infestations (many nests) year after year it will be weakened and succumb.To leave no leaf unturned on this story, the Tribune's reporter also contacted a member of the Arlington County Urban Forestry Committee. This tree expert wrote:
Even if they eat a lot of a tree's leaves a healthy tree will flush out a second time. Less healthy trees would be stressed considerably by losing their foliage and subsequently more vulnerable to drought, other insects, and diseases. A tree in a very weakened state could die from such a loss of foliage.This tree clearly is healthy. While the tent caterpillars have eaten leaves on the branch where their tent is located, many, many more leaves remain. The tree is unlikely to have to flush out leaves a second time.
The Tribune stands by its story.