Browntail Moths Are Everywhere Right Now: Here’s What You Can Do To Protect Yourself
We've spent the better part of the spring months on the lookout for the Browtail Moth Caterpillars, and doing our best to dispatch them before they get a chance to spread their little hairs throughout the state.
Those who unwittingly crossed paths with the little buggers (and there are many) can tell you all about just how unpleasant the havoc those hairs can wreak can be.
And while it may have seemed ok to let our guard down, with fewer and fewer caterpillars being spotted in the area, there is a reason they have been seen less and less; They've been shifting their shapes from caterpillar to moth.
And now, they seem once again to be everywhere.
So we need to step up our game and prevent these seemingly harmless bugs from doing what they do best: breeding.
"Insect traps, bug lights, and other methods of attracting and catching the moths is sure to be ineffective and are more likely to encourage the female moths to lay eggs on your property. The use of bug zappers may also reduce the population of parasitic flies and wasps that are natural enemies of the BTM. The best thing you can do is to turn off your outdoor lights between 9:00 pm and midnight when the moth is most active."
It's also a good idea to keep an eye on the leaves on your trees and shrubs. Specifically, if you see these white moths hanging out in certain spots, chances are they are looking for a spot to safely lay their eggs.
If they choose your yard, it's likely you'll be in for a challenging springtime season next year. So it's best to be on the lookout for them now, so you can take care of the issue before they hatch.
According to the website, Bangormaine.gov, the male moths will be clustering around the lights, while the females will be looking for nearby foliage to lay their eggs in.
"The moths will be laying eggs sacs of approximately 200-400 eggs in August. The eggs will hatch approximately 2 weeks later. These caterpillars will feed on leaves and you will see skeletonized leaves on affected trees. These trees will end up with winter webs in mid-late October as the caterpillars prepare for winter. During this early feeding period, the caterpillars will shed hairs but the effect doesn’t seem to be as severe as in the spring."
If you do come across an egg sac or clusters of moths, the site says you can use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to suck them up, and then dump the bodies and sacs into a few inches of soapy water. The key to stopping the spread of the hair from the bugs is to allow them to drown in the water for a few days before disposing of them.
The City does go on to say that while it may feel good to get rid of as many of these pests as possible, there's just no way we're going to get them all. So it's best to err on the side of caution and dress accordingly when you go outside, to reduce the risk of having the hairs causing you harm. Since the streetlights are important for safety reasons, they cannot shut them off, obviously. But apparently, the browntail issue has become so prevalent, Bangor is looking into dimmer options for the lights to reduce attraction to certain parts of the city.