Residents of Maine are fighting off an invasion of poisonous caterpillars that have overrun the state, as well as a coronavirus pandemic and a plague of biting insects. Other parts of the United States are battling swarms of cicadas that have emerged from their burrows in the ground. Although cicadas may be difficult to deal with, browntail moths, also known as browntail caterpillars, are actually quite dangerous and can induce rashes and even difficulty to breathe in some individuals.

The browntail moth caterpillar is tiny, only about an inch and a half long. They’re identifiable by the white dashes that run down their sides and two red dots on their backs, which are approximately an inch-and-a-half in length. They’re an invasive species that’s been wreaking havoc on Maine this spring, with more to come throughout the summer.

Browntail moths are often seen in Maine, as well as on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. This invasive species has been particularly numerous this year, and they have been discovered in all sixteen Maine counties. This invasinalong native to Asia has invaded more areas of the state this year, according to a Maine Department of Agriculture, Institute official.

“People are finding them everyplace: on the ground, on the picnic table, on the electrical box, on the corner — you name it,” Britt stated. “They are heavily present. Folks will see them all over.”

He continued, “We are in the midst of an outbreak.”

The tiny hairs on these caterpillars are poisonous. According to a Maine Department of Health and Human Services warning, the poison can last for up to three years on these hairs, making them particularly hazardous.

Touching the caterpillar’s hairs might produce a red and bumpy rash that is comparable to what people experience from poison ivy. The condition may last for weeks, according to the department.

However, if browntail caterpillar hairs are breathed in, they may cause significant breathing difficulties. As a result, it’s best to avoid browntail moths if you don’t want them to have an impact on you.

There are a few people out there who don’t have symptoms when they’re exposed to these caterpillars. Because he recently came within range of these invaders at a Maine park, Britt is one of them.

“They were everywhere, and I had absolutely no reaction to them,” he stated.

Apart from applying insect repellent and avoiding the affected area, there are no known treatment options for a browntail moth rash. Calamine lotion, on the other hand, is advised by the department as treatment for the condition.

In several areas of the state, the caterpillar infestations have gotten out of hand. In Maine’s Waterville, Mayor John Buckley called an extraordinary meeting of the City Council and urged them to issue a public health emergency declaration for the town north of Augusta.

“After a pandemic year, while we are finally able to start getting out and socializing, this is the last thing we want to be dealing with,” said the mayor Jay Coelho.