Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
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Browntail Moth Management

Browntail moth web. English photo

Browntail moth web. English photo

December 2019

Late winter is the time to clip browntail moth (BTM) caterpillar webs from trees that are accessible. Hairs of these caterpillars can cause a rash like poison ivy as well as respiratory problems, and the pest is spreading, especially along coastal Maine. The caterpillars spend the winter webbed in silken-wrapped leaves on the tips of branches. Look for the bright white silk tying a few leaves to the tips of branches – especially of apple, crabapple, plum and oak trees. If you see a web, clip and drop it into a bucket of soapy water; don’t just leave it on the ground.

For a video showing how to clip the webs and for a list of arborists who can prune webs, see The Maine Forest Service has an excellent FAQ about BTM at See also “Maine Moth Mania” at


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