February was Browntail Moth Awareness Month here in the state of Maine.


And while the month has come and gone, the push to identify and then deal with the nests these caterpillars are hiding out in is still happening in full force.

Video still Regina Smith via YouTube
Video still Regina Smith via YouTube

According to the Maine.gov websites, now--before the trees start to blossom and grow leaves that could obstruct your view, is the best time to locate and then destroy the nests/webs that protect these pesky pests. Because if left there, the caterpillars will eventually emerge and spread their toxic hair through the air, leading to possible respiratory and skin issues for those unfortunate enough to come in contact with them.

The best place to look?

"Stand with the sun to your back and check out browntail's favorite host trees (oak, elm, birch, poplar, cherry, fruit and ornamentals). Look at the tips of branches for palm-sized webs wrapped tightly in white silk."


Last year, some Browntail Moth Caterpillar hotspots were identified throughout the Bangor area, including many local playgrounds and parks.

The deal with those trouble areas, folks from both the Bangor Public Works Department and the Bangor Parks and Recreation Department have joined forces. Traveling to each hotspot, they've identified where the nests are. The challenge has been getting up high enough to reach then and then remove and destroy them.

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Bangor Public works recently posted an update on the City of Bangor, Maine-City Hall Facebook Page, outlining some of the challenges crews have run into and how the effort to eradicate these critters is coming along.

Browntail Moth Removal Efforts, City Of Bangor, Maine
Browntail Moth Removal Efforts, City Of Bangor, Maine

"We rented a 40’ lift with jib to target nests from February 13 to March 10, 2023. However, the trees in our parks are proving to be too high to reach the winter nests, even when using an extension pole. We have now rented a 60’ lift and will attempt to clip nests with that.

It is much heavier, and we may run into problems with soft ground, but the attempt to address the BTM problem in the City of Bangor continues! "

As many of us learned, following this week's Nor'Easter, the mud beneath the ground can be very tricky to deal with, especially if you're trying to get a ladder secured to reach those high-up spots where they've built those nests.


The State has put together a March Checklist of helpful tips about finding and dealing with these nests, which includes:

  1. "Recognize browntail moth winter webs on the branch tips of their favorite host trees (oak, elm, birch, poplar, cherry, fruit, and ornamentals).
  2. Remove the winter webs before the end of March while the rash-causing caterpillars are still inside and the trees are still dormant.
  3. Recruit help from a licensed arborist or an FAA certified commercial remote pilot with a specialized vehicle to remove webs out of your reach. If web removal isn't possible due to the height or quantity of winter webs, recruit a licensed pesticide applicator who can treat trees in early spring to kill the caterpillars.
  4. Reach out to your neighbors, co-workers, or businesses if you recognize browntail moth winter webs so plans can be in place to remove the webs.
  5. Take the Browntail Moth Sticker Feedback Survey to help us improve future stickers.
  6. Host a web-clipping event to clip browntail winter webs in your community.
  7. Enjoy spring in your backyard with fewer browntail caterpillars"

Time is running out to destroy these pesky bugs, so do what you can now to dispatch of these nests before you're left searching for ointment and covered in blisters.

Sarah Nickerson, Townsquare Media Bangor
Sarah Nickerson, Townsquare Media Bangor

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