It's that time of year when brown-tail moth caterpillars are active in Maine, and that's a problem for humans and forests alike. It's an invasive species only found in Maine and Cape Cod. These caterpillars apparently don't like crossing state lines, which is a good thing for the rest of the country.

Even though there's a fungus that is infecting the brown-tail moths this year, you still want to make sure you keep yourself protected, because brown-tail moth caterpillars have hairs that are toxic to humans. They can give you a rash that will itch like crazy, similar to poison ivy. They also can cause breathing problems for some people, due to the hairs becoming airborne.

Brown-tail moth caterpillars are active from April to late June, but the hairs are still toxic all summer long. When the caterpillars become moths, they start feeding on trees and destroying them in the process.

So what can you do to protect yourself if you see webs of brown-tail caterpillars in trees around your home? Here are some tips from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

Destroy caterpillar webs you find.

It's recommended that you clip off caterpillar webs you see on trees between October and mid-April, before the caterpillars come out in the spring. It's pretty simple to do, but just make sure you destroy them by burning them in a fireplace or drowning them in a bucket of water.

Here's how to remove webs in tall trees.

Use a pole pruner (you can either purchase or rent one) as well as a stable ladder or lift to get to higher webs. If it's too high for you to remove yourself, call an arborist.

Avoid exposure to the brown-tail moth's toxic hairs.

If you're around invested areas, reduce your exposure to toxic hairs by wearing long sleeves and pants, goggles, a dust mask a hat, and disposable coveralls. It's a lot to wear, but it will reduce your chances of being exposed.

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