Photo of Browntail Moth Webs from the State of Maine.
Most insects are useful additions to our community’s diverse ecology. However, some can cause harm to humans. The caterpillar stage of the Browntail moths are examples of these problematic entities. Their hairs are toxic and can cause severe reactions in some of our neighbors.
Do you have trees with caterpillar webs? Feel like going outside and getting some physical activity? Try chopping down some winter webs this season. Look for them at the tops and tips of tree branches. If the branch has curled over leaves still clinging despite the wind you may be seeing webs of Browntail Moths. The Maine Forest Service advises locals to clip webs before caterpillars erupt to forage, usually around mid-April. Be sure to drown or burn the webs. Please remember: freezing will not kill the caterpillars.
If you don’t have the proper equipment at home to help you accomplish this task, you can check out tools from our Library of Things. We have hand pruners in our garden kneeler kit, pruner kit, and a long pole pruner available to lend.
To learn more about Browntail moths check out these Maine State Resources:
- Maine Department of Conservation & Forestry
- Printable Brochure
- Maine Forest Service FAQs
- Maine Department of Health and Human Services