In This Case, A Moth Murder Spree Is Exactly What We Need
So I walked out my garage door the other morning, and it looked like a blizzard had hit the front of my house! I knew immediately, because I had just done some research on them the week before, that what I was looking at was not snow, but instead hundreds of brown-tailed moths! The kids and I have been seeing the caterpillars all over the lawn, and up in the trees. We've been killing them each time we've come across them. But I guess a couple got away...or maybe more than a couple.
When I saw all those moths, and then thought of the eggs each one of those moths could help produce, I thought it best to dispatch them all with haste. (Basically I killed as many as I could with my shoe. And it was a lot. There were little white fluffy moth bodies everywhere!)
Then I realized that my kids were watching in complete horror! They are typically Nature lovers, and I was committing insecticide right in front of their eyes! They knew the caterpillars were bad, but to them, moths and butterflies are essentially the same thing.
So I had to stop and explain that what I was doing wasn't as horrible as it looked.
I pulled up the resources I had found on the Maine.gov website, which clearly state that
"There is a possibility of adult moths picking up the toxic hairs from the caterpillar stage as the moths emerge from their cocoons; however, the brown hairs on the abdomen are not the toxic hairs."
Now, upon further investigation, my shoe-killing technique was not the safest nor most effective way of killing these pests. In fact, the website had other recommendations of taking care of them and preventing them from swarming near your house...
"A wet/dry vacuum with a HEPA filter and filled with a few inches of soapy water. Keep outdoor lights off at night during the last week of June to the first week in August."
I also felt better after my killing spree, upon reading the experienced bug folks in the recent BDN article entitled "When it comes to browntail moths, kill them any way you can".
According to the information in that write up "One female browntail moth can lay hundreds of eggs, leading to hundreds of new caterpillars emerging the next spring. The Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has categorized the invasive species as a public health nuisance."
Do I feel bad about killing all those bugs? Kind of, mostly because I'm not really wired to enjoy the death of something alive--unless I'm watching and of the "Aliens" movies. I'm totally fine with those things biting the dust!
But I also don't want any of my kids, or the neighborhood kids, getting a bad rash because I let those things live.
So I guess, in this case, a "moth murder spree" is exactly what we need!
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