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Fungus saves Mainers from rash-causing moth in some towns

July 3, 2019

HARPSWELL, Maine (AP) — Some localized areas of Maine are finding relief from a rash-causing species of moth because of the cool and rainy spring.

The browntail moth’s caterpillar is an invasive nuisance that causes itchy rashes and respiratory problems. But the Portland Press Herald reports damp weather in the late spring helped spur the spread of a fungus that kills the caterpillars.

Scientists predicted earlier in spring that browntail moths would be especially bad this year. But the Maine Forest Service said Tuesday that field surveys have shown collapses of the pest due to the fungus. Such collapses have happened in communities including Arrowsic, Camden, Harpswell and Turner.

The caterpillar’s high season is usually mid-May through June.

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