How An Early Spring Affects Browntail Moth Activity

February 24, 2024

Although we haven’t had a “typical” Maine winter, it’s not necessarily over just yet. In fact, the Farmer’s Almanac predicts a deep freeze and another doozy of a storm to hit Maine in late February. Meanwhile, that ole’ groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, says spring will be coming early to the Pine Tree State. Only time will tell, and as we wait, let’s discuss how an early spring could affect browntail moth activity. 

browntail moth yard treatment device from pine state pest solutions

What does an early spring mean for browntail moth caterpillars?

An early spring in Maine can potentially affect browntail moth activity in several ways:

Accelerated life cycle

Warmer temperatures in early spring could mean that eggs hatch earlier, and larvae emerge sooner than in a typical year. 

Increased BTM population

A mild winter followed by an early spring might lead to higher survival rates for browntail moth larvae and pupae. This can result in larger populations of adult moths later in the season.

More damage caused by browntail moths

Browntail moth caterpillars primarily feed on the leaves of trees. An early spring may mean more damage to host trees. 

Why it’s important to curb BTM activity before it really starts

If you’ve lived in Maine any length of time, there’s a good chance you already know quite a bit about these pests, but we do want to reiterate that browntail moth caterpillars can pose a health risk. They have tiny, barbed hairs that can cause skin irritation, rashes, and allergic reactions upon contact. Moreover, symptoms can range from mild to severe, even resulting in respiratory issues. The bottom line, you don’t want anyone you care about to encounter these pests. 

Animals are less susceptible to browntail moth rashes than humans because most have fur that BTM hairs cannot penetrate. Still, muzzles, bellies, and other parts of pets, livestock, and other animals that are not covered by hair can be affected. 

Don’t wait for the weather to warm up before you take action 

As February is Browntail Awareness Month, it’s only appropriate to act against these pests right now. To reduce your chances of finding caterpillars crawling all over your property in a month or two, you should:

  • Look for winter webs in your trees.
  • Remove winter webs from trees using extendable pole pruners if it is safe (i.e., there are no powerlines or other hazards nearby).
  • Schedule a browntail moth assessment with Pine State Pest Solutions.

Pine State Pest Solutions: Maine’s premier browntail moth control provider

For relief from browntail moths this spring (whether it’s early or right on time), contact Pine State Pest Solutions right away. Currently, our browntail moth control division is preparing for the season and is ready to help property owners stop these pests from causing damage to their trees. In fact, our schedule is filling up fast, so don’t put off calling our team.

How we eliminate browntail moth caterpillars in Maine

To exterminate browntail moth caterpillars and prevent adult moths from taking over, Pine State Pest Solutions offers tree micro injections (ideal for properties that are on or within 25 feet of ocean, lake, or pond), tree spraying, and vehicle-mounted tree spraying for properties that have 1+ acres of trees. When you contact us for help, we’ll assess your property and recommend the best treatment option. 

Homeowners in Turner, New Gloucester, and Augusta, along with those throughout our multi-county service area, can trust Pine State Pest Solutions to take care of their browntail moth caterpillar infestations this spring – whenever it arrives. Don't hesitate to contact us today!

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