News Center Maine shares that Maine's CDC and Maine Forest Service, are warning of the return of the dreaded browntail moth caterpillars, whose tiny hairs act like poison ivy and can cause itching and serious breathing problems.

When I was a kid, playing with caterpillars, daddy long legs and salamanders was what we did for fun. Now I'm afraid of these little critters. The worst part is that you don't even have to pick up one up to get whacked. Their little hairs go airborne and land on your skin or clothes and once you've made contact the itching begins. If you breath in their poisonous hairs you could have a very difficult time breathing.

These little monsters are no joke, so take a look at this picture and show it to your kids too. This is not the guy you want to collect to put in an old spaghetti jar with some grass and leaves. Those orange dots and spikes mean he's not to be tangled with.

Getty Images

Maine.gov has some great advice for us to avoid the effects of the browntail moth caterpillar. The Coronavirus has many of us at home, so we are working and playing outdoors:

  • Don't dry your laundry outdoors during June and July when the browntail moth fur is flying.
  • Cover up like it's black fly season; long sleeved shirts, long pants, a hat, grandma's scarf, whatever you can find to cover your skin.
  • If you're playing or working outside, keep your face mask on to prevent breathing in the hairs.
  • Set out a sprinkler or hose down an area where you plan to work or play to keep the hairs from becoming airborne.

The hairs don't mellow much with time and weather. Last fall's leaves are probably full of these buggers, so be careful while doing yard clean up. The hairs are toxic for up to three years. Suckaroo.

So, a reminder: browntail moth caterpillars are dark brown with white stripes running up their sides and they have two reddish-orange dots on their back. The young ones might not have the white stripes, but they will have the dots.