Resources to Help Schools Eliminate Browntail Moth Nests

The Maine Department of of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry has put together the resources and information below to help Maine schools eliminate Browntail Moth nests

Browntail caterpillars cause a severe poison ivy-like rash and can cause breathing problems in some people. If this insect is present on your school properties you should take action to destroy it now to protect the health of students, staff and visitors in the future. Unmanaged infestations can cause health risks for years because the caterpillars’ barbed and toxic hairs can remain in the environment for up to three years.

Browntail moth caterpillars overwinter in fist-sized silken nests on branch TIPS in oaks, birch, apples, cherries, crabapples and other hardwoods. Now is the time to remove these nests from trees on school grounds.

  • Clip webs BEFORE the caterpillars emerge in mid April
  • Burn them or soak them in a bucket of soapy water to kill the caterpillars inside
  • Don’t leave webs on the ground, the caterpillars will still emerge
  • Each web can have between 25-400 caterpillars inside so each web counts
  • If time or funding is an issue focus on trees with webs in high traffic areas

Browntail caterpillar webs can be found from the New Hampshire border to Deer Isle, and inland to Raymond, Turner, Rome, Smithfield, Burnham and Eddington. They are worst along the coast from Falmouth to Bristol and up the Kennebec River to Richmond. It has also been found in Belgrade, Burnham, Eddington, Liberty, Lincolnville, Turner and Whitefield. More information, a video showing how to clip the webs, a list of arborists willing to do prune webs and a list of licensed pesticide applicators can be found here:

If you think you’ve found webs but aren’t sure, contact the Maine Forest Service at (207) 827-1813.