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Frequently Asked Questions

Understanding and Managing Browntail Moth Infestations

This comprehensive FAQ section is dedicated to addressing common concerns and questions about Browntail Moths, a significant pest in specific regions like Maine. The section delves into various aspects of the Browntail Moth.

How do I know when I have it?

Browntail moth caterpillars can be identified by their distinct appearance, including two orange dots on the tail end. They are commonly found in Maine and Cape Cod and are known to infest various trees like oak, apple, crabapple, pear, birch, cherry, and other hardwoods.

What do they feed on?

The caterpillars feed on the leaves of host trees such as oak, apple, crabapple, pear, birch, cherry, and other hardwoods.

 

Are they harmful to trees?

Yes, browntail moth caterpillars can harm trees by defoliating them, which weakens the trees and makes them more susceptible to other stressors.

 

 

Are they dangerous to humans?

Browntail moth caterpillars have tiny poisonous hairs that can cause dermatitis similar to poison ivy in sensitive individuals. The rash is not contagious but results from both a chemical reaction to a toxin in the hairs and physical irritation as the barbed hairs become embedded in the skin.

 

 

 

How is the rash contracted from Browntail Moth Caterpillars?

The rash can be contracted by being outside on a breezy day near infested areas, mowing the lawn, or through indirect contact, such as hairs getting on pets and being brought inside.

 

 

 

 

 

What causes the rash?

The rash is caused by a chemical reaction to the toxin in the caterpillar’s hairs and the physical irritation from the barbed hairs embedding in the skin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How long does the rash usually last?

The rash can last from a few hours up to several days, but in sensitive individuals, it can be severe and last for several weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are the hairs dangerous to breathe?

Yes, inhaling the hairs can cause respiratory distress, which can be serious.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Should I mow if I know I have an infestation?

It’s advised to avoid using leaf blowers or lawnmowers on dry days in heavily infested areas, as this can make the hairs airborne.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How long are the hairs poisonous?

The toxin in the hairs is stable in the environment for one to three years, and the hairs can become airborne at any time.