Browntail moths make their webs in the fall in oak, apple, serviceberry and other trees and shrubs. Hairs from the larvae can cause a rash similar to poison ivy and can also cause respiratory distress in sensitive individuals. The larvae begin to emerge from their webs in late April and feed on the foliage as soon as it appears. Larvae hairs persist for a number of years and can continue to cause problems when mowing or other activities stir them up.
The browntail moth population has intensified in the southern Merrymeeting Bay area, which may mean more people are at risk of exposure to the larvae hairs. The area primarily affected by this insect includes parts of Bath, West Bath, Brunswick, Topsham and Bowdoinham; other affected towns include Augusta, Falmouth, Freeport, Kennebunkport, Lewiston, Lisbon Falls, Turner, and Wiscassett.
Most people developing the rash will do so within hours of outdoor activity. The duration of the rash varies, from hours to days.
For more information from the Maine Forest Service: http://www.state.me.us/doc/mfs/fhm/pages/BrowntailMoth.htm