Tussock Caterpillars Are Starting to Come Out Big Time Here in Maine
I think back in March, the conversations about browntail moth caterpillars began.
There were all sorts of predictions about how this season was going to fare, based on conditions over the winter. It seemed like the winter was setting us up for a big-time season of misery, and "they" were right. Whoever they are.
The last couple years were bad enough, that towns and cities around Maine have been taking active steps to try and mitigate, if not totally eradicate Browntails in our area. Bangor's been taking aggressive steps to get the issue under control, including rolling out a plan in the fall to identify the locations of nests and remove them.
Browntail caterpillars are gone, but the itch isn't over.
This part of summer, brings some relief from the dreaded BTM's, as the adults are unable to produce hairs that cause the rash. But, there's another little fuzzy jerk that is just starting to come out for the season, and that's the hickory tussock moth caterpillar. These little critters are very familiar to us here in Maine.
I remember seeing these around all through my childhood and being told by anyone that saw me within 100 feet of one, to stay away from them. And you never forget those markings, because I always thought they looked like they could be coming or going because they look kind of the same, front to back.
We're just getting rolling for the year.
Here in Maine, they start to come out in July and stick around until September. At that point, they nestle into their cocoons for the winter, and then pop out in early summer, to begin laying eggs, and making more little caterpillars. Then, of course, the vicious cycle starts all over again.
Actually, it kinda starts sooner than that. With the tussocks, their cocoons also can cause a rash. So you'll want to look out when your raking leaves and such because that's where they live, is in the leaves on the ground. Basically, it's just another case of Mother Nature making sure we never get a break from scratching ourselves.
The rash is very similar to brown tail caterpillar rash.
What's worse, is that it's more susceptible in children because the darn things are so fuzzy and cute. Especially compared to browntail moth caterpillars which are pretty drab and ugly. These little tussocks practically beg to be picked up and cuddled. Just fight the urge, hahaha.