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Environment and Outdoors

Outbreaks Of Destructive Moth Expected To Be Bad In Maine

Maine Forest Servicd via AP

The browntail moth will continue to infest coastal Maine again this year, but now it has also moved inland with some winter webs being found in the Bangor area.

“The scale of this outbreak, we haven't seen in a hundred years, when browntail moth was first introduced into North America,” says UMaine entomologist Ellie Groden.

Groden says the invasive pest de-foliates a number of fruit and other trees, but it is also a serious public health nuisance. The moth's caterpillars have toxic hairs that can cause severe rashes in most people and respiratory distress for some sensitive individuals.

Groden says that while the browntail population had seen significant declines, it really exploded in Maine in 2015.

“Now we have about 126,000 acres that are infested, as of this past fall, which is double what the forest service estimated in 2016,” Groden says.

Groden says browntail moth is most problematic in May and the first part of June.

Updated 4:51 p.m. April 11, 2019