Healthy Options 7/3/19: Health Hazards and Environmental Destruction Caused by Browntail Moths in Maine

Host/Producer: Rhonda Feiman
Co-Producer: Petra Hall
Studio Engineer: John Greenman

a) What are the health hazards of browntail moths?
b) How can we try to protect ourselves from exposure to the caterpillar’s toxic hairs, which can cause severe skin rashes and respiratory problems? Are there times when exposure to the hairs are more/less of a threat?
c) How are browntail moths causing environmental damage? What trees are specifically being destroyed by the brown tail moth caterpillars, and are there ways to protect them?
d) Are these outbreaks just occurring in Maine? What kind of attention is being focused on health problems and environmental destruction, and what is the situation currently, on the funding for research, and for pest management?

Dr. Eleanor Groden, Professor of Entomology in the School of Biology and Ecology at the University of Maine, Orono, and head of the University of Maine Browntail Moth Project, which is investigating the factors contributing to the severity of the browntail moth outbreak in Maine, while evaluating methods which might manage its spread.
Arlene Jurewicz-Leighton of Lincolnville, science instructor for Cambridge College in Boston, who has been researching the environmental devastation and serious health problems resulting from the browntail moth infestation in Midcoast Maine.

Websites of interest:
University of Maine Browntail Moth Project
The Maine Forest Service’s Frequently Asked Questions about Browntail Moths
The website, with links to a multitude of subjects pertaining to brown tail moths:
Blindsided: The Browntail Moth Caterpillar Takes the Midcoast by Surprise (The Free Press, 7/19/18):