All Things Browntail-Moth Awareness

The Maine Forest Service has announced that February 2022 has been recognized as Browntail Moth Awareness Month in Maine to encourage people to take advantage of the dormant season of the insect and join together to reduce impacts from Browntail-moth.

Let’s take some time to learn about these annoying creepy-crawlies.


What is the Browntail-moth and how did it get here?
The Browntail-moth (Euproctis Chrysorrhoea) is a species of moth that was accidentally brought to Massachusetts from its native Europe in 1897. Browntail-moths are now found living in all New England states in addition to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Why are Browntail-moths an issue?
There are 2 main issues when it comes to Browntail-moth: feeding and hairs.

Feeding:
The larval, or caterpillar, stage of the Browntail-moth feed on the greenery of hardwood trees and shrubs. Common host trees and shrubs include (but are not limited to): Oak, apple, crabapple, cherry, hawthorn, shadbush, service berry, and rugosa rose. These feeding habits can cause a decrease in plant growth, branch dieback, and in some cases death for the tree/shrub.

Hairs:
According to Allison Kanoti, the state entomologist for Maine, Browntail-moth-caterpillar hairs are barbed and hollow. And inside that hollow tube, there’s a reservoir of a toxin. The tiny (0.15mm) barbed hairs shed by the caterpillars can cause severe rashes, similar to poison ivy (which results from both a chemical reaction to the toxin in the hairs and a physical irritation as the barbed hairs become embedded in the skin.), headaches, eye irritation, and respiratory problems which can last anywhere from a few hours to several weeks.

These microscopic hairs settle on line-drying clothing, backyard picnic tables, patio furniture and the ground beneath infested trees. The hairs can easily be stirred up by wind, outdoor chores such as mowing, raking, gardening, sweeping, and outdoor activities such as hiking/walking, biking, fishing, etc., and the hairs remain toxic for 1-3 years!

What do they look like?
Browntail-moths are most likely to be seen and recognized in their caterpillar and moth stages.

Caterpillar stage: Browntail-moth caterpillars grow to about 1.5 inches in length. They are dark brown with broken white stripes running along either side of their bodies. They have two obvious red/orange dots on their back and are covered in small hairs.

Moth stage: Adult Browntail-moths have a wingspan that is about 1.5 inches. They have snow white wings/bodies, with tufts of brown hair on the tips of their abdomens.

Don’t be fooled by these innocent Browntail-moth look-alikes!:

(https://www.canr.msu.edu)

While they may have some features in common with the Browntail-moth, these caterpillars do not pose the same threats as Browntail-moths do.

Browntail-moth life-cycle

Browntail-moths produce one generation per year and have four life stages: egg, larval, pupal, and adult.

As the diagram above shows Browntail-moth caterpillars become active in the spring, leaving their overwintering webs to feed on newly emerged leaves of their host plant until they are fully grown, usually around the end of June, and then form their cocoons (these are often found between leaves on trees, under eaves, picnic tables, decks, etc.). Adult moths emerge in late July and August, and female moths begin their oviposition (the egg-laying process.) They can produce between 200-400 eggs, which they protect by covering them with brown hairs from their body. When the eggs hatch towards the end of August, colonies of caterpillars build winter webs on the tips of branches. These webs, made of white silk tightly woven around a leaf or small number of leaves, can be 2-5 inches long, and can house anywhere from 25 to 400 caterpillars.

How to limit your exposure to Browntail-moth

  • Avoid places heavily infested with caterpillars
  • Keep car and house windows closed. Airborne hairs can settle onto indoor surfaces in high-risk areas.
  • When performing activities outdoors choose damp days or wet the areas you are working in. Moisture helps keep the hairs from becoming airborne.
  • Wear long sleeves, pants, and a hat and tightly secure clothing around the neck, wrists, and ankles.
  • In areas of high infestation consider wearing goggles and a respirator or cloth mask, especially if you are prone to respiratory issues.
  • Dry laundry inside during June and July to avoid hairs embedding into clothing.

What to do if exposed to Browntail-moth caterpillar hairs

  • Before going indoors, use duct tape or a sticky-type lint roller to remove any hairs that may be embedded in your skin.
  • Immediately wash exposed clothing (alone) in hot water and dry in the dryer.  
  • Take a cool 10–15-minute shower. Exposed skin can be gently scrubbed with a rough cloth to help remove embedded hairs.

Management/Removing of webs

The Maine Forest Service recommends clipping webs between October and mid-April before caterpillars emerge from winter webs and begin feeding on new leaves. This task is more easily accomplished when there are no leaves on the trees as the webs are more visible. Keep in mind that only the section of the branches that hold webs need to be removed. Equipment that can be used includes a pair of hand snips, hand saw, and/or pole pruner (which you can borrow from our lovely library!), eye protection, clothing to cover skin and gloves. Collect nests and burn or soak in soapy water 3-5 days then throw them away.

Pesticides can be used to control caterpillars if done before the end of May. The Maine Forest Service recommends contracting with a licensed pesticide applicator to control Browntail-moth. Products must be labeled for the site of treatment. A list of contractors willing to do Browntail-moth work can be found here: www.maine.gov/dacf/mfs/forest_health/invasive_threats/browntail_moth_info.htm

Want more information? Check out these sources!

-Maine Department of Agriculture Conservation & Forestry brochure: https://www.maine.gov/dacf/mfs/forest_health/documents/browntail_moth_brochure.pdf

https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/infectious-disease/epi/vector-borne/browntail-moth/index.shtml

-University of Maine: Cooperative Extension: https://extension.umaine.edu/home-and-garden-ipm/fact-sheets/common-name-listing/brown-tail-moth/

https://umainetoday.umaine.edu/stories/2018/aliens-body-snatchers/


Here’s the complete presentation from the February 2022 informational session and demonstration on how to remove browntail moths from trees with Maine Forest Service Entomologist Colleen Teerling
 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

Here are some of our favorite Dr. Seuss titles, what are yours?

Hop on Pop was a favorite Dr. Seuss book of mine and also of my children. I read the dickens out of that book to my boys and then they in turn read the dickens out of it to me. It was this book that taught them to read, with its hilarious rhymes and funny illustrations. How proud they were the first time they were able to read to me! We laughed a lot at what Pat sat on and what a bad day Dad had. And who can forget Mr. Brown and Mr. Black! All in all, looking through the book again after all these years brings back such warm memories of time shared with my precious children. Now, onto One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish!

Marlene Patten, Library Assistant

Favorite Dr. Seuss book:
I can’t pick just ONE favorite Dr. Seuss book! How about I give you my top 5 instead?
1.) The Sleep Book
2.) Fox in Socks
3.) One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
4.) Green Eggs and Ham
5.) Oh, the Places You’ll Go

Least favorite Dr. Seuss book:

I would have to say The Foot Book. (But, that’s probably because I don’t like feet in general!) 

Dr. Seuss Fun Facts!

Real Name: Theodor Geisel

Where he got his name: Seuss was his middle name, and his mother’s maiden name.

Other Pen Names: Theophrastus Seuss, Theo LeSieg, and Rosetta Stone

Honors: Academy Award (x2), Emmy Award (x2), a Peabody Award, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, The Lewis Carroll Shelf Award (x2), the Inkpot Award, and the Pulitzer Prize.

Dr. Seuss has been in Forbes’ list of the world’s highest-paid dead celebrities every year since the list was started in 2001.

 “I am what I am! That’s a great thing to be! If I say so myself, happy birthday to me!” ~ Dr. Seuss

Jess – Young Adult Librarian.

Favorite?

Dr. Seuss’s ABC: I love a good, simple, and fun ABC book. They’re perhaps the pinnacle of all Children’s Books for me! If you can make the ABC’s fun, you can do anything. Seuss does just that with this one.

Least favorite?

I don’t think I have one. There’s a thread of consistency and quality in all of his books, and I think that is something we should recognize.

One additional observation: is it just me, or does anyone else get really hungry if they read “The Butter Battle Book”???

Justin

Dr. Seuss wrote more than 40 books for children!  I have read MANY of them, though I won’t claim to have read them all!

Green Eggs and Ham was one of Dr. Seuss titles I read when learning to read. – Believe it or not, the book only uses 50 different words.  Amazing!

As Jess pointed out earlier, I don’t think I have only one favorite, I enjoy the rhythm of his words.  The illustrations draw me in.  Some of the titles are rather intriguing.

Horton Hears a Who has a wonderful message – one that we should all remember – people are people – size, shape, color, gender, abilities, challenges –  “a  person’s a person, no matter how small”.

Ann Russell, Technology Librarian

Favorite

Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories: I like this book the most because as a child I had the big hard copy of this book for myself.

Least Favorite

I did not dislike any of his books but disliked some of the words that he would use, that as a child I could not pronounce.

As a child I would receive books in the mail through an “I Can Read” program. This was one of my greatest memories growing up.

Ginni Nichols, Children’s Librarian

Winter Blues vs. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Winter can bring on more than a shift of seasons, cooler temperatures and shorter days… The numerous seasonal and lifestyle changes that accompany the winter season can bring on a change in mood as well. There’s been a lot of research on “winter blues” — and the more serious seasonal affective disorder (SAD) — that impact people during the darkest time of the year.

Winter Blues

Dr. Therese Mascardo, Psy.D., CEO of Exploring Therapy defines Winter Blues as “non-clinical names people have used in recent history to describe the phenomenon of experiencing symptoms of anxiety and low mood during the winter months.”

Symptoms of Winter Blues:

  • low mood and depression
  • anxiety and excessive worry
  • irritability
  • lethargy, sleepiness, and fatigue
  • loss of interest in everyday activities

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

The National Institute of Mental Health defines Seasonal Affective Disorder as “a type of depression/mood disorder that comes and goes with the seasons, typically starting in the late fall and early winter and going away during the spring and summer.”

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder:

  • Depressed mood, low self-esteem
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
  • Appetite and weight changes
  • Feeling angry, irritable, stressed, or anxious
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Changes in sleeping pattern
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue and lack of energy; reduced sex drive
  • Use of drugs or alcohol for comfort
  • Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and despair

As we mentioned above, this blog is for informational purposes only, however if your depression and/or anxiety feels overwhelming and is adversely affecting your life, it’s time to seek help from a professional.

For most people “winter blues” won’t reach a diagnosable SAD level, but there are definite changes that happen in the fall/winter to impact our energy, mood, metabolism, and sleep habits.

Factors Contributing to Winter Blues

  • Change in routine.
  • The start of a new school year.
  • Cold and flu season (and currently the coronavirus.)
  • Election season and political events.
  • Anticipating winter holidays, family gatherings, and party season.
  • The aftermath of winter holidays, family gatherings, and party season.
  • The excitement of the holidays being over.
  • Cold weather and decreased sunlight/vitamin D deficiency.
  • Increase in the hormone melatonin, which leads to sleepiness.

These simple tips can be helpful in lessening, or perhaps even, preventing the winter blues:

 -Make sure your home is a clean, welcoming, and enjoyable space-

While many people do a major ‘Spring Cleaning” session, winter is also a great time to overhaul your living space. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), the physical action of housekeeping and the end result of a cleaner home helps relieve stress, anxiety and depression. This could be due to the fact that cleaning gives people a sense of mastery and control over their environment, life is full of uncertainty and many situations are out of our hands, but at least we can assert our will on our living space. Whatever the reasons, the end result of a “Winter Cleaning” can provide a feeling of accomplishment as well as prepares your space for several months of indoor-focused living.

-Cut back on screen-time/Manage your screen-time-

Cold weather often means we spend more time indoors, and that tempts us to spend more time watching television, looking at our computer screen, or playing on our phone/tablet. Too much screen time diminishes mood, builds fatigue, and creates too many distractions. Try making a point to put down devices and step away from screens.

-Move your body-

Whether you’re indoors or outdoors there are many positive psychological and physical benefits of regular exercise, including elevated mood and self-esteem, as well as a decrease in anxiety, depression and stress levels.

And, exercise strengthens the immune system, helps you maintain a healthy weight and reduces your risks for colon, breast and endometrial cancers. You should aim for at least two and a half hours of moderate physical activity each week.

-Get outside-

Spending time outdoors, even as little as 15 minutes a day, is an excellent help with the winter blues. – Just a few minutes a day has been proven to improve both our moods and our physical health, leading to reduced stress and increased self-esteem.

According to Kathryn A. Roecklein, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, going outside can increase positive mood and alleviate depression, because natural daylight does a bang-up job of raising your serotonin (one of your body’s feel-good chemicals) levels.

Sunlight also provides much needed Vitamin D, which brings us to our next tip!

-Increase your Vitamin D intake-

Vitamin D is found in cells throughout your entire body. Bones need it to grow, muscles need it to move, nerves need it to carry messages between the brain and every body part, and the immune system needs it to fight off invading bacteria and viruses. Along with the harm a lack of Vitamin D can do to your body, numerous studies have also linked Vitamin D deficiencies to anxiety and depression. – How do you get more D? Get outside, open your curtains, buy sunlight simulation lightbulbs.

How can you increase your vitamin D?

The best way is the tip above: Get outside!

Other ways: Open your curtains, bring more vitamin D into your diet*, take Vitamin D3 supplements (D2 is Vegan friendly), use an Ultraviolet (UV) lamp/Light therapy, or use sunlight simulation lightbulbs.

 *Fatty fish and seafood, dairy, egg yolks, mushrooms, Vitamin D fortified foods (such a nut-milks, soy milk, orange juice, cereal, and tofu)

-Practice relaxation techniques-

Meditation, yoga, and prayer are all extremely effective ways to calm the body and mind. In the morning, they can help you feel focused and more energized for the day. In the evening, they can help clear the mind of the day’s worries allowing you to focus on the most important task at hand: sleep.

Other forms of relaxation techniques are: guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, slow/deliberate breathing, massage, or self-hypnosis.

According to Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., professor and director of Integrative Medicine at MD Anderson just five minutes of meditation can help you manage stress.

There are many online tutorials that teach you the basics of meditation. (You can find guided meditations from the Benson-Henry Institute at www.health.harvard.edu/bhi.)

-Get a good night’s rest-

Sleep is essential – It is as important to our bodies as eating, drinking and breathing, and is vital for maintaining good mental and physical health. Sleeping helps us to recover from mental as well as physical exertion. Up to one third of the population may suffer from insomnia (lack of sleep or poor-quality sleep) or other sleep problems. These can affect mood, judgement, energy and concentration levels, our relationships, and our ability to stay awake/ function at school or work during the day.

-Set your alarm clock and stick to a sleep routine-

One of the most underestimated yet effective ways to improve sleep is by sticking to a regular schedule when it comes to sleep and wake times. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day helps to establish a pattern and balances the body’s internal master clock. Over time, maintaining this routine may help you to wake up feeling more alert and cut down on the time it takes to fall asleep at night.

Here is a list of tips for getting a restful night’s sleep from the Sleep Foundation: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-hygiene/healthy-sleep-tips

 -Improve your diet-

According to Dr. Uma Naidoo, M.D., director of nutritional and lifestyle psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, “Food and nutrition are powerful tools within our control to help our mental well-being.” Eating smart and healthy is one way to help improve mood. Not only do we feel good about ourselves for making a good decision for our bodies, but also nutrients from eating the right foods have physiological effects that put us in a better mood. For example, good carbohydrates (whole grains, fruits and vegetables), fish, and vitamin D are among some of the foods that increase serotonin levels in the brain, which in turn elevates mood.

-Help others-

Volunteers experience greater satisfaction with life and life purpose, increased self-confidence, and a greater sense of identity. By using their time, skills and energy to be of service to others, they not only help people but also receive numerous personal mental health benefits. Help out a local organization, such as a soup-kitchen. Clean out your closet and donate the clothes you’ve grown out of. Put in some extra effort around the house to help out your family. Do something kind for a friend. The possibilities are endless!

-Be kind to yourself-

As important as it is to be kind to others, it’s equally important to practice kindness towards yourself. We’ve given you a lot of tips on how to deal with feeling down. But when you’re depressed, it can be really hard to find the motivation to actually do these things. If you skip a workout or stay in all day, don’t get mad at yourself. Instead, think about what you’d say to a good friend going through something similar.

-Most importantly: don’t hesitate to see your healthcare professional

“Blues can be part of some other system,” says Jacqueline Gollan, PhD, associate professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Chronic pain, headaches, sleep disorders, and even heart disease are all linked to depression symptoms, so check in with your healthcare provider to make sure your winter blues aren’t something more serious.

We hope that these small changes can lighten your mood and help you get through the winter blues!

* DISCLAIMER: THIS BLOG DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE.

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

The information (including but not limited to, text, graphics, images, and other material) contained on this blog are for informational purposes only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog. *

-Written by Jess The Young Adult Librarian