Here’s How Mainers Can Benefit From A Rainy Spring: Less Browntail
Right now, we are awaiting the Browntail's appearance but that doesn't mean there isn't more that mother nature can do to evade these multi-legged, poisonous haired foe of ours.
Here come the caterpillars
The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry sent out an update on Friday about the recent activity of the Browntail caterpillar. The caterpillars are now making their way out of their nests atop tree limbs and are warming up in the sunshine. The department is stating that people are observing the emergence of the pest at a few of their monitoring sites.
Disease in the population
One thing mentioned by the MEDACF was that diseases are present in the caterpillar population. One thing that could continue and generate more disease for the population would be a wet May and June. While nobody wants to sit in rainy weather for weeks on end, it might do us some good in order to decrease the presence of these dastardly pests.
While we could cross our fingers for inclement weather, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry states we shouldn't count on it to help us with what is to come with their activity emerging right now in the season: "If environmental conditions this May and June are right (consistent spring moisture) diseases could lead to localized browntail moth population collapses. People should not count on disease-related collapses to save them from the rash. Please plan ahead for avoiding exposure to hairs and treating symptoms related to exposure."
The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry sent out information earlier this year with their winter web information in March. The department's Forest Health and Monitoring staff have been diligently tracking winter webs of the Browntail Moth Caterpillar throughout Maine. The information found shows the spreading of the invasive insect into more inland and southern areas of the State of Maine.
Latest observations showing positive signs of decline
A newsletter from the Maine Department of Agriculture Conservation & Forestry sent out in September observed that some webs are showing fewer signs of activity by the insect.
One explanation that the department is proposing is that there could be a pathogen present in the population. Investigations are underway to see if this is the case and if so, it seems as though Mother Nature is taking a little mercy on us and helping to curb this natural borne problem that may have a natural borne solution.
Now we wait
Right now, we are awaiting their descension while they feed on budding leaves near their nests in trees and shrubs.
For more information on what can be done now or further into the season, check out information from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry's webpage dedicated to the Browntail Moth/ Caterpillar.