(Waterville) The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry is warning Maine residents of an increase in Browntail Moth Caterpillar Infestation. They say the infestation of the invasive caterpillar is showing to be worse this year than last.
They are encouraging Maine residents to begin looking and thinking now about how they want to deal with the pest because otherwise they can be dangerous.
The caterpillar hairs can cause a blistery, oozy rash or respiratory distress for anyone who comes in contact with them. The rash is similar to getting poison ivy.
According to Maine Forest Service Entomologist, Charlene Donahue, The Browntail Moth Caterpillar is an insect that was brought over from Europe in the late 1800s. By the 1900s, the insect spread to all of the New England states, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.
The insect population are heavy on islands and in coastal areas in southern Maine, extending up the river valleys,”said Donahue.
Winter Web surveys conducted by the DACF’s Maine Forest Service (MFS) identified “extremely” high levels over-wintering web in the tops of oak trees.
Web counts were highest in parts of the following: Bowdoinham, Bath, Topsham, West Bath (Sagadahoc County) Brunswick, Freeport and Harpswell (Cumberland County) this year.
The Maine Forest said they are also showing up in places such as, Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough, Westbrook, Windham, New Gloucester, and Yarmouth (Cumberland County).
Pockets of infestation were also found in other coastal location from Lincoln County, south and inland towns such as Augusta, China, Vassalboro, Waterville (Kennebec County), Lewiston, Turner (Androscoggin County), and Whitefield (Lincoln County). One recently was found at Gardiner High School.
People are asked to take extra precautions in areas with browntail moth infestations, especially during the late spring and summer months.
A list of recommended precaution is available on the Department’s website.
Any questions regarding licensed pesticide companies can contact the entomology lab at (207) 287-2431 or email [email protected]