How To Destroy Browntail Moth Winter Webs In Maine

February 10, 2022

Mice, rats, bed bugs, roaches - these are all common winter pest problems here in Maine but they’re not the only pests that should be on your radar. As we mentioned in our previous blog post, the Maine Forest Service has recognized February as Browntail Moth Awareness month and for good reason. It’s the perfect time to seek out and destroy browntail moth winter webs. 

browntail moth infestation in tops of trees around a maine home

A little background on browntail moths in Maine

Browntail moth caterpillars have been plaguing our state since 2015 and have contributed to tree defoliation and branch dieback in a major way. They’ve also negatively affected tree mortality. Bottom line, they’re bad news and while they’re not active all year round – winter is no time to let your guard down. 

You see, browntail moth caterpillars – those ones with the toxic hairs that can cause rashes and respiratory distress- overwinter in trees. That is, they spin webs in the early fall in order to house up to 400 caterpillars per web during Maine’s long cold winter. These silky white webs are firmly attached to the tips branches and are able to remain affixed to oak, apple, shadbush, cherry, and other trees that grow in our state while they wait for springtime to arrive. Oddly enough considering we are the Pine Tree state and thankfully so, these destructive pests don’t particularly care for pine trees or other conifers for that matter.  

Why you should destroy winter webs when you see them

When you take time to clip and destroy browntail moth winter webs on your property, you’re not only protecting your trees from being damaged and preserving your family’s health, you’re helping to knock out browntail moths in Maine. You know the saying; it takes a village. 

Winter is the best time to undertake this task as the tree limbs are bare and the webs easily discovered. 

How do you destroy BTM winter webs?

The state’s “Knock Out BTM” campaign offers insight on how to destroy winter webs on your property. In order to accomplish this task, you’ll need a pole pruner and hand snips or shears as well as protective gear for your eyes and skin. Once you have the necessary equipment, you’ll want to detach the webs and then destroy them either by burning or soaking in soapy water for several days and then tossing them in the trash after. 

If you choose to burn the webs, you will need a burn permit and the State of Maine highly encourages you to use extreme caution and never burn nests that are still attached to branches. 

For more information, watch this video released by the State of Maine. To get to the removal and destruction of webs, start at the 44 second mark. 

In addition to the advice about removing webs, the state also suggests lining up professional help during the winter to access webs out of your reach and also to combat these pests when they’ve left their webs and start raising a ruckus with their destructive habits and toxic hairs. 

Schedule your browntail moth caterpillar control today!

At Pine State Pest Solutions, we offer browntail moth control services on Frye Island and to other coastal communities as well as further inland. If you have need help treating browntail moths in Auburn, Waterville, or elsewhere in our multi-county service areas, please give us a shout. As we always say when it comes to BTM control, contact us sooner than later. Our schedule fills up fast and we only provide this service for a short period of time, typically April through May. 


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