April 04, 2022
Yes, it’s true. This year, Maine is facing the worst browntail moth infestation since these deciduous tree defoliating, rash causing caterpillars arrived in our state over 100 years ago! For those of you who aren’t too familiar with this particular pest problem, F.L. Harvey first detected them in Kittery in 1899. So why this year? Why are browntail moth caterpillar populations expected to be the worst on record this year? Well friends, blame it on the weather.
How weather affects insect populations in Maine
Although it certainly helps, you don’t necessarily have to be a scientist to realize that weather affects insect populations. Just look at mosquitoes in Maine (sidenote, these biting pests will be showing up very soon). When wet weather persists, the mosquito population increases because they breed in standing water. Mosquito reproduction efforts decrease when dry weather/drought conditions prevail.
Here's another example – carpenter ants. Have you ever noticed how they start showing up inside your house about the time mud season in Maine is in full swing? The truth is, they’ve been inside since the fall when the cold weather sent them searching for a warm place to spend the winter. And they probably weren’t alone. Other types of ants, spiders, and mice are just a few of the common house-infesting pests that capitalize on your unknowing hospitality when the temps drop outside.
Back to this year’s BTM problem and how last year’s weather is to blame
According to browntail moth experts at the University of Maine, the drought-ridden spring of 2020 and last year’s warm, dry spring limited the ability of the browntail moth’s natural enemy – the fungus entompohaga aulicae - to attack the caterpillar stage of this obnoxious and destructive pest. While damp spring weather in Maine causes the fungus to thrive, unseasonable warm and dry days had the opposite effect which accounts for a browntail moth “explosion” in areas already hard hit by these pests AND an expansion into Maine communities that were previously exempt from hosting them.
How to exterminate browntail moths on your Maine property
If you’re concerned about browntail moth caterpillars taking over your property in the coming weeks, we understand. Like you, we don’t want these caterpillars feasting on our trees and we certainly don’t want their toxic hairs causing rashes or breathing issues for our family members.
In order to stop these pests from taking over, Pine State Pest Solutions provides effective browntail moth control services in Auburn, Belgrade, and on Frye Island as well as throughout our multi-county service area. Our locally owned pest control company has the tools, products, and experience to tackle browntail moths and our highly effective treatments include tree micro injections and tree spraying; we also offer vehicle mounted tree spraying for properties with an acre or more of trees.
Our browntail moth division has already begun the task of eradicating BTMs this season and will continue to do so through May. If you’re interested in a browntail moth treatment, reach out today!