Tools and Tips for Helping To Knock Out More Browntail Moths
February 1, 2023
For more information contact: Jim Britt at: Jim.Britt@maine.gov
AUGUSTA, Maine - To draw increased attention to the risks presented to humans by the browntail moth (BTM), the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry announced February as Browntail Moth Awareness Month. Winter is the best time to spot, clip and destroy the caterpillars lying dormant in their winter webs. Web removal prevents more caterpillars from emerging, thus reducing the risk of toxic hairs, which can cause poison ivy-like rash and asthma-like reactions in humans. BTM has been in an outbreak phase since 2015, and the rash- and itch-causing pest cannot be eradicated. Comprehensive BTM tools and tips and data-informed resources compiled by the Maine Forest Service, Board of Pesticides Control, Maine Center for Disease Control, the University of Maine, and other partners, including research, infestation tracking, FAQs, and educational materials for communities, municipalities, businesses, and healthcare providers, are available on maine.gov/dacf/knockoutbtm.
Three Steps to Maximize the Effectiveness of BTM Awareness Month
Step One - Know the Four Rs to Reduce BTM populations in Maine
Recognize BTM winter webs in the trees where you live, work, or play. Knowing where BTM winter webs are in your yard or town can help inform your management decisions and aid in removal to prevent impacts from the toxic hairs.
Remove BTM webs with hand snips or an extendable pole pruner in areas within reach of the ground and away from hazards such as powerlines. Protect your eyes and skin from hairs that might be present from past caterpillar activity. After removal, destroy the webs.
Recruit professional help to treat BTM webs out of reach or near hazards on the property you own or manage. Licensed professional arborists can remove BTM webs in larger trees and shrubs in the winter. Some arborists offer web-clipping services using drones. Licensed pesticide applicators may be able to help control BTM adult breeding activities during the growing season.
Reach out if you have concerns about BTM. Neighbors, business owners, and community members can come together to respond to the problem and achieve greater results. Consider hosting your own BTM web clipping event in your neighborhood to reduce the itch for your family and your community!
Step Two: Participate and Share BTM Awareness Month Events
Participating in BTM knowledge-building activities and events can help you become more informed about BTM and bolster the momentum and energy needed to organize community web clipping or BTM mapping events. The following list is a sample of events and activities across the state.
February 2, 2023, 10:30 to 11:00 AM
Free and virtual webinar hosted by the Maine Forest Service Topics include BTM history, defoliation status, and tools to knock out BTM.
February 2, 2023, 3:30 to 4:30 PM
Free and virtual webinar hosted by the University of Maine One Health Initiative Topics include the University of Maine's BTM research. No registration is required; join by using this Zoom link. Passcode: 269053.
February 8, 2023, 6:30 to 8:15 PM
Free and virtual webinar hosted by Southern Maine Volkssport Association Topics include BTM biology, history, life cycle, status, management, and mitigation strategies. Pre-registration is required by emailing email@example.com.
February 18, 2023, 10:30 to 12:00 PM
Free and in-person workshop hosted by the Androscoggin Soil and Water Conservation District and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension
Topics include hands-on learning about how to recognize and remove BTM. This workshop is an outdoor event; weather-appropriate attire is required. Bring pruning equipment and work gloves. Pole saws, hand saws, and loppers will be available for participant trials. More information and to register for the event can be found on their Events page. Registration is requested but not required.
Step Three: Always be learning about invasive pests threatening Maine's trees and forests.
Visit the Maine Forest Service webpage, explore the resources, and subscribe to news bulletin topics. During BTM Awareness Month, review and share news and events, FAQs, and management techniques. Test the BTM interactive map and read the latest research. For business owners, municipal leaders, and arborists, Maine Forest Service strongly encourages using BTM-specific resources for towns and businesses.