According to WGME, the toxic browntail moth caterpillars have returned to Maine.

The caterpillars, which are in the process of emerging from their webs, are covered in fine, brown hairs.  These hairs are toxic and can cause allergic reactions (similar to poison ivy) in many people.  Also, the caterpillars shed the hairs, causing them to be airborne.  If the airborne hairs are inhaled it can make breathing difficult in some people.

Most people will develop a rash that lasts from a few hours to a few days.  However, some people develop a severe reaction that can last several weeks.

Once the hairs have been shed, they remain toxic for 12 to 36 months.  The hairs, which could land on anything (decks, patios, flowers, trees), can be thrown back into the air by activity like kids playing or mowing the lawn.

The caterpillars have been reported in all southern, mid-coast, and central Maine counties.

With the pandemic's stay-at-home orders causing more people to utilize their decks and yards, there is an increased risk that people could come in contact with the hairs.

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