Large numbers of eucalypts around the region are not actually dying, but are being stripped by caterpillars, experts say. Some local residents have recently raised concerns about gums which look to be dying, with sick-looking canopies. The matter has become a hot topic of conversation among those writing letters to the Bendigo Advertiser's editor in recent weeks. Strathfieldsaye's Rob Stephenson first noticed discoloured tree-branch tips several weeks ago while cycling. "When I started to pay more attention I realised they were brown," he said. Advertiser journalists themselves have seen noticeable damage throughout the region including on a backroad drive to Kyneton on Bendigo Cup Day. It was obvious in Mr Stephenson's own neck of the woods, along Guys Hill Road, where an apparent" panorama of dead trees" prompted him to write his letter to the editor. But trees should recover, the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA) said. It blamed cup moth caterpillars munching on tree leaves Bushman Stuart Fraser, who has spent half a century in and around Bendigo's forests, echoed the cup moth diagnosis. "It's not uncommon, the trees will recover," he said. "It does look terrible. It can defoliate quite large areas. "It knocks the tree around, it's not good for it but it's not going to kill it." Mr Fraser said the problem starts from late winter to early spring as the caterpillars gnawed on old leaves. The cup moth caterpillars - so named because they eat the top out of their spherical cocoons - fall to the ground in November, he said. "As it falls to the ground the ravens will turn them around and eat them away from their stinging hairs." "You'll see the moth around in April and May and it lays its eggs," he said. Mr Fraser said that ironbarks could sustain the creatures quite well. "But grey box, yellow gum, red box and red stringy bark will be defoliated and look as if they're half dead." Another culprit of canopy damage is lerp caterpillars, as Valeri Pilcher noted recently in a letter to the editor. According to DEECA, 'lerp' is the name of the crystallised honeydew secreted by the psyllid insect when it feeds on leaves. Psyllid insect populations were in high numbers in some areas across Victoria, the department said. The effect of psyllid feeding was a greying of leaves, with less significant foliage loss than occurs with cup-moths. Tree and canopy damage can also be caused by pathogen levels, climate and environment.