Maine is considering giving money to stop the Browntail moth from causing a rampage – CBS Boston

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine lawmakers are considering launching a new fund to help cities and towns try to slow the spread of the invasive moth that can cause an itchy rash in people.

The fund will help communities combat the brown moth, which has been the subject of an ongoing outbreak in the state that began about seven years ago. The caterpillars have poisonous feathers that can cause breathing difficulties and a poison ivy-like rash.

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The fund will begin with $150,000 in funding in the 2022-23 fiscal year. The bill’s sponsor, Democratic Representative Allison Hepler of Woolwich, said the money could be used by municipalities and nonprofit groups for moth control activities, such as such as hiring growers and spraying pesticides, and renting equipment to chop down moth nests.

The moth arrived in Maine a century ago, and entomologists say last year was the worst year for a brown moth infestation in its history. This moth is also found in Massachusetts.

“That’s a problem. And it’s not going away,” Hepler said. “It’s just a way to help small towns, to spread resources.”

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Maine forestry officials have named February Browntail Moth Awareness Month to try to encourage people to be aware of the moths and take steps to slow their spread. The worst intrusions have occurred in southern Maine and the mid-coastal region of the state.

The fund proposal was the subject of a public hearing before a committee of the Maine Legislature on Tuesday. The Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee is expected to vote on the proposal in the near future.

The moth can also have serious consequences for forest owners because they feed on hardwood trees and shrubs, says Karla Black, executive vice president of Maine Woodland Owners. The group testified in favor of the establishment of the new fund.

“As we work our way toward spring and the start of another brown moth season, this bill provides a glimmer of hope,” Black said.

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(© Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Maine is considering giving money to stop the Browntail moth from causing a rampage – CBS Boston

Dustin Huang

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