Brown Tail Moth

Adult Browntail Moth caterpillars are roughly 1-1.5 inches long with broken white stripes going down each side of their body and two orange spots on their back. The caterpillars are hairy and these hairs contain a toxin that can cause a poison-ivy like rash to people who come into contact with them. Browntail Moth are folivores and the caterpillars will feed on leaves of a variety of trees including oak, birch, and fruit trees. Treatment for Browntail Moth can happen at various times throughout the year depending on which life stage we are targeting. Browntail Moth go through complete metamorphosis; i.e egg, larva, pupa, and adult. See the Life Cycle below for more information.

Life cycle better explained

Browntail Moth larvae (caterpillars) emerge from winter webs in trees from April to May and begin actively feeding on the new leaf tissue. They feed continuously until they are fully grown in June. The larvae then begin to move towards areas where they can pupate (cocoon stage). They can typically be seen on houses, lower branches of trees and other protected areas at this point while they are transitioning into moths. Later in June and early July the white moths will emerge, mate and lay eggs on the underside of leaves of new host trees. The young larvae will emerge in mid-August and begin feeding on the leaves of the host tree. In late September, the young larvae will begin making communal winter webs they will over-winter in. The larvae produce a white silk that they use to coat the outside of their webs that protects them from snow and rain and firmly anchors them to tree branches. These communal winter webs can have up to 600 larvae each.

When should treatments be completed?
Manual removal of Browntail Moth winter webs can be done at any point the webs are present, October-early April before they begin to emerge. Chemical treatments can be completed twice a year when the larvae are feeding in both the spring and the fall. See life cycle for reference.

What trees do BrownTail Moth Caterpillars feed?
The preferred trees include oak, apple, crabapple, pear, birch, cherry as well as other deciduous trees.

Methods of Treatments

At Hawkes Tree Service we use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to determine the best plan of action for each property we manage. The first steps are to assess the property, identify the target pest and select appropriate treatment methods. IPM is a dynamic approach to managing pests by
combining biological, cultural, physical, and chemical tools in a way that minimizes economic and environmental impacts. Here at Hawkes Tree Service, we understand that there is more to pest management than short-term solutions.

We use site inspections and proper pest identification to develop a custom plan with each customer, allowing us to control pest populations and protect the health and intrinsic value of your trees. Treatment options we offer are manual pruning or removal, systemic trunk injections, systemic soil injections, basal bark and hand-held spraying options, and high-powered foliar spraying. Each property has the potential for a single or combination of treatment options.


Maine Pest Control Guidelines

The State of Maine has strict guidelines for which products and treatment methods may be used for Winter Moth within 250 feet of the mean high water mark. These laws are designed to protect the integrity of marine ecosystems and habitats. Inside this setback zone we recommend individual tree injections. Soil injections use a small volume of product inserted near the base of the tree’s root flares where the fibrous root hairs can absorb it. The systemic product is translocated throughout the tree with other nutrients and delivered to the new tissue in growing leaves. 

Trunk injections work in a similar way and use a systemic product as well. In this case, we actually drill a small hole into the root flares of the tree and insert a needle that is connected to a system containing our product. The tree will pull the product in as it does with water and other nutrients and when we are done the tree will compartmentalize the small wounds and quickly heal over.

Every property is a bit different when it comes to treatment methods for Winter Moth. If you would like more information or a free consultation for your property, please contact us or call today at (207) 442-7444.