Protect yourself from browntail moth hairs this fall

Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 6:10 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - The Maine CDC and Maine Forest Service are reminding Mainers and visitors to our state about how to protect themselves from browntail moth hairs this fall.

Hairs from browntail moth caterpillars can get stirred up during fall yardwork.

Those tiny hairs can cause a rash as well as breathing and other respiratory problems.

While browntail moth caterpillars grow and shed these hairs from April to early July, the CDC says the hairs can remain toxic in the environment for up to three years.

They say most people exposed to the hairs develop a rash that lasts for a few hours or several days, but others can experience more severe symptoms.

The Maine CDC and Forest Service offer recommendations to reduce exposure while working outdoors:

  • Do yardwork when leaves are wet to prevent hairs from becoming airborne.
  • Do not rake, use leaf blowers, or mow the lawn on dry days.
  • Do not dry laundry outside where hairs can cling to clothing.
  • Cover your face and any exposed skin by wearing a long sleeve shirt, pants, goggles, and a dust mask.
  • Take a cool shower to wash off loose hairs.
  • And, change clothes after outdoor activities.

For answers to frequently asked questions on browntail moths, contact 2-1-1 Maine.