Maine Forest Service Asking People To Be On The Lookout For Browntail Moth Caterpillars

Published: Mar. 5, 2018 at 5:45 PM EST
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The Maine Forest Service is urging people to be on the lookout for browntail moth caterpillars.

The browntail moth is native to Europe but was introduced to the US in the late 1800's.

The moths are usually found in southern Maine or within a few miles of the coast.

But in recent years, the population has grown, and the caterpillars are moving farther inland.

The caterpillars are more than just a nuisance and can be potentially dangerous.

Allison Kanoti of the Maine Forest Service said, "It has hairs on the skin of the caterpillar that are irritating. They have a physical irritant as in barbs and a chemical irritant, a toxin. And the hairs break off the caterpillar's body and when the conditions are dry, they can blow around in the wind and cause exposure to people who haven't even seen the caterpillars."

Symptoms of exposure can range from a poison ivy-like rash to difficulty breathing.

The Maine Forest Service says now is the best time of year to manage the caterpillar population.

For more information or to report a caterpillar web sighting, visit the Maine Forest Service website and search browntail moth.