Browntail Awareness Month is back!

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Maine Forest Service

February is Browntail Awareness Month:
Here's What You Can Do

Browntail Moth (BTM) caterpillars have been an ongoing nuisance in Maine; causing tree defoliation and rashes in humans. Reduce your chances of encountering this pest on your property by learning how to recognize and remove their winter webs from your trees during February, Browntail Moth Awareness month.

BTM Caterpillars in a line

February Checklist - Reduce Browntail Impacts:

  1. Recognize browntail winter webs (see photo below). Check the tips of tree branches for palm-sized (2-5 inches long) webs tied to the leaf stem with white silk. Browntail strongly prefer to make their webs in oak, apple, crabapple, cherry, birch, poplar, shadbush, and rose bushes.
  2. Remove browntail winter webs. Use hand snips or an extendable pole pruner in areas within reach of the ground and away from hazards such as powerlines. Protect your eyes and skin during removal as toxic caterpillars may still be present. After removal, destroy webs:
    • Obtain burn permit and burn them in a contained fire, or
    • Soak them in a bucket of soapy water for a few days before disposing
  3. Recruit professional help when you can't remove winter webs. Licensed arborists or FAA-certified drone operators can help remove webs during the winter. Licensed pesticide applicators may be able to use pesticides on trees with browntail during early spring to reduce browntail populations.
  4. Reach Out if you find browntail in your neighborhood or community. The more neighbors, businesses, and others that work together to respond to browntail, the better the results.
BTM webs

(Left) Browntail webs that have been removed from a tree; note that they are at the tips of branches and are palm-sized. (Right) Browntail web still attached to the tip of a branch; note that on a sunny day, the white silk surrounding the web makes the web easier to find in a tree.

BTM Caterpillars in a line

BTM winter web sticker

New educational sticker available at Maine Forest Service booth events to raise awareness and encourage browntail winter web removal. Find us to grab your own sticker!

2024 Browntail Awareness Events:

Browntail Moth Mitigation and Educational Clipping Event 
Time: February 8, 2024, 3:00PM to 5:00PM
Orono Middle School (Across from Tennis Courts), Orono
Bring your gloves, hand snips, pole pruners, buckets, and eye protection to help students from browntail moth! Join local educators, including the Maine Forest Service and Orono Tree Board staff to learn about browntail mitigation and remove winter webs around the RSU 26 campus. Ask professionals about browntail moth tips and tricks, management techniques, while helping reduce browntail impacts at the school. 

Browntail Moth Winter Web ID and Clipping Training Session
Time: February 20, 2024, 3:00PM to 5:00PM
Maine Hall, Eastern Maine Community College, Bangor
The City of Bangor Public Works Forestry Division, in cooperation with Eastern Maine Community College, will be conducting an educational event to help residents and businesses in Bangor recognize and remove browntail moth winter webs. Come learn about the risks, how to identify the nests, and how you may be able to mitigate that risk on your own property. Dress appropriately for the weather and wear gloves and eye protection to avoid contact with browntail hairs. Attendees will have an opportunity to watch a demonstration, then use the pole pruner themselves.

Host Your Own Clipping Event!
Time: February 2024
Cost: Free
Your neighborhood!
Use Maine Forest Service (MFS) resources to teach others how to recognize and remove browntail webs around neighbors' dooryards, parks, or trails in your community. Share hand snips and pole pruners and work together to remove winter webs to help reduce impacts. Consider creating contests for the most webs clipped in your community and take photos of your event! Use #KnockOutBTM to share your success with us and your friends and family on social media! 

Knock Out BTM

Additional Resources:

The MFS Forest Health and Monitoring Division coordinates within state government, local communities, and directly with citizens to respond to this issue. Winter is the best time to clip and destroy BTM winter webs within reach or hire licensed arborists or pesticide applicators to reduce out-of-reach populations. Comprehensive BTM information and tools compiled by MFS, Board of Pesticides Control, Maine Center for Disease Control, the University of Maine and other partners including research, infestation tracking, FAQs, and educational resources for communities, municipalities, businesses, and healthcare providers, are available on