As caterpillar development closed for the season, confirmed viral and fungal pathogens were at some monitoring sites. Although we documented some mortality from disease, these pathogen outbreaks were localized. Many of the deceased caterpillars observed had died right before pupation, either in or just outside the pupal packet.
The first report of a Browntail moth adult was on Friday, July 7, in Penobscot County, with other confirmed sightings in Turner and Skowhegan later that same day. This means that you may soon see these white-colored moths flying around in an area near you. Many species of white moths in the northeast are often confused for the Browntail moth, most notably the Virginian tiger moth, satin moth, and fall webworm (see chart below). Browntail moths have white wings and legs and reddish-brown hairs on their abdomen, which gives this species its common name of brown “tail” moth. This brown abdomen peeks out from under its wings when at rest.
We expect to see the peak of adult Browntail moths in the middle of July. Although the brown hairs on the moth are not the toxic barbed hairs on the caterpillars, you don’t want to attract adult Browntail moths to your property: more moths = more caterpillars. To dissuade these adult moths from flying onto your property, turn off unnecessary outdoor lights (or switch to yellow-colored bulbs) until the beginning of August. Using bug zappers or other devices to control browntail moths is not recommended; these devices often use light to attract insects, attracting more browntail moths to that area. These devices also kill insects that can help reduce browntail populations.
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