It's something that we've been dealing with in Maine for the last several years- the dreaded browntail moth caterpillar.

And depending on who you ask, there are all kinds of different remedies for this awful rash. From store-bought products to made-at-home remedies, a quick Google search will populate dozens of different things people claim you can use to alleviate the burning itch.

Recently I got browntail rash while we were camping. You see, it's not just the caterpillars themselves that pose the risk, it's those stupid little hairs they leave behind everywhere.

Camp chairs, picnic table benches... everywhere! And naturally those hairs are way too small for you to see with the naked eye. While we were camping, one of our kids had to cover themselves in Duck Tape and then rip it off to try and get the little hairs out of their skin. Not funny, but kinda funny, ya know?

WGME 13 recently caught up with a professor from UMAINE who happens to be a literal expert in all things browntail.

Angela Mech, a University of Maine Forest Entomology Professor, told WGME in part about this year's apparent infestation of browntail moth,

"It is too late to treat the trees anymore this season, basically the caterpillars that are out there are the ones that we're stuck with unless you have the ability to have pesticides come and sprayed directly on the caterpillars, but they're really moving so that's not a viable option as much,”

"Definitely try to reduce your risk by wearing long sleeves and pants and covering up as much skin as possible, waiting to mow the grass until the grass is a little bit wet to avoid kicking up those toxic hairs, so there are a few things that we can do to reduce our risk but it's going to be a little bit itchier before it gets better,”

The Maine Department of Health & Human Services has put out some quick guidlines on how to treat and also prevent the nasty browntail moth rash this season:

  • Avoid places infested by caterpillars. Visit the Interactive Browntail Moth Dashboard to see where the Maine Forest Service notes high activity.
  • When performing outdoor activities that may stir up caterpillar hairs, aim for damp days or spray vegetation down with a hose. Moisture helps keep the hairs from becoming airborne.
  • Cover your face and any exposed skin by wearing a long sleeve shirt, long pants, goggles, a respirator/dust mask, a hat, and a disposable coverall.
  • Tightly secure your clothing around the neck, wrists, and ankles.
  • Avoid using leaf blowers in areas known to have large infestations.
  • Take cool showers and change clothes after outdoor activities in infested areas.
  • Dry laundry inside to avoid getting hairs on clothing.

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