Information for Schools Regarding Browntail Moth Infestations

The following information comes from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

Schools are critical spaces to recognize and respond to browntail moth (BTM) infestations, to avoid impacts to students and staff. While long-lasting tree defoliation and branch dieback are concerns, impacts to the health of students and staff are the most pressing concerns around schools. The microscopic, toxic hairs of BTM can cause trouble breathing and skin irritation similar to poison ivy, lasting from a few hours to up to several weeks. Some people say they experience itching with fewer than ten webs per tree or shrub; others say they have no symptoms from heavier infestations around their yards. In 2021, Maine Forest Service (MFS) surveys uncovered populations of this insect in every Maine county except York, where it is also likely to be found.

In areas where BTM is not managed, exposures to the toxic hairs peak from late-May through July but are possible throughout the year. You can take actions right now, from February to the end of March, to reduce impacts at the end of the school year along with any summer use of the school grounds. There is only a short window of time to complete these actions. Please consider speaking with your facilities manager, custodians, and staff now to create an action plan. 

For more information and support on how to respond to potential browntail moth infestations view the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry latest bulletin.

For further information and for answers to your questions: 

  • Call 211 or 1-877-463-6207
  • Text your ZIP code to 898-211