Euproctis chrysorrhoea (L.)
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The browntail moth is an insect of forest and human health concern which was accidently introduced into Somerville, Massachusetts from Europe in 1897. By 1913, the insect had spread to all of the New England states and New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Since that time, populations of this pest slowly decreased due to natural controls until the 1960's, when browntail moth was limited to Cape Cod and a few islands off the Maine coast in Casco Bay. Browntail moth populations are again building in Maine and are found in patches from the western Maine border to east of the Penobscot River. A map of the known distribution of the pest in Maine is linked below.
The larval stage (caterpillar) of this insect feeds on the foliage of hardwood trees and shrubs including: oak, shadbush, apple, cherry, beach plum, and rugosa rose. Larval feeding causes reduction of growth and occasional mortality of valued trees and shrubs. While feeding damage may cause some concern, the primary concern is the impact on humans from the browntail moth is the result of contact with poisonous hairs found on the caterpillars. Contact of these hairs with human skin causes a rash similar to poison ivy that can be severe on some individuals.
- Got the Itch? Browntail Moth on Maine School Grounds: How to Recognize, Treat and Manage it.(Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. Aired 11/17/16).
- Browntail Moth Brochure (PDF | 1 MB) (full color)
- Browntail Moth in Maine History and Current Situation 2018 (PDF | 2.4 MB)
- Browntail Moth Life Cycle (PDF | .3 MB)
- Maine CDC Browntail Moth Information
- Maine Browntail Moth Roadside Population Assessment: Winter 2018 (PDF | 2.1 MB)
- List of Licensed Pesticide Applicators willing to treat Browntail Moth, Hemlock Woolly adelgid and/or Other Pests
- List of Arborists willing to PRUNE browntail webs in the winter (PDF | .07 MB)
- Browntail Moth Citizen Science Survey Form (PDF | .1 MB)
Use extreme caution if burning webs. Never burn unless the branches have been clipped off. This type of burning requires a burn permit. FMI, please visit www.maineburnpermit.com and check the daily forest fire danger report.