My Browntail Moth Caterpillar Rash Is Making Life In Bangor Miserable
It all started in April, cleaning out brush in the abnormally warm, early spring. With the strangely warm temperatures Maine started getting in the early spring, I couldn't help myself but get out, get some fresh air and get to work on clearing out some brush on the edge of my property. It required cutting out brush and moving an old brush pile that didn't get burned last year. This was where the beginning of problems with the Browntail Moth Caterpillar began.
I toiled in the decent weather but, within a week, I found myself covered in itchy bumps. First they covered my left torso, hands and arms. Then, they moved up onto my neck, face, and across to the other side of my torso. It was miserable. They were so itchy and persistent. After a few days, I couldn't take the itch any longer and went to the doctor.
At the time, we weren't sure what the cause was. Here are some pictures of my body rash. Keep in mind it's not so red because I was slathering myself in calamine lotion at the time.
My primary care provider was a bit perplexed at what the cause was but, prescribed me a 10 day prednisone treatment, steroid medicine and to take antihistamines. A slow 10 days went by I finally started seeing results of the medication.
I was doing good after the treatment, had a few bumps here and there while still taking on my outdoor pursuits in the yard.
Early May rolls around and I started noticing the dreaded caterpillar- on my house, on my deck, on my lawn chairs, on my kids' toys. It was the dreaded Browntail moth caterpillar. This is when I concluded that my once-in-a-lifetime unbelievable, hardly livable rash from April was in fact due to this invasive insect that we've been hearing about here in Maine for a few years.
A month later now and I can spot them from a mile away. I use designated work gloves to delicately take them from off of their perch and whip them into a soapy froth in a special 4 quart pan I have dubbed "the Pit of Death."
Just when I thought I was doing good with these little misery makers, here I am again, battling a rash on both of my forearms, around my neck and on my face. It itches so bad. Topical cortisone cream does not help the itch. Being around heat makes it worse- cooking, washing dishes, showering- it's such a nuisance. The worst is when you wake up itching and itching and itching and not even realizing that you are doing it. It can bring you to tears.
I have seen a few recipes for a homemade topical to treat the itch. But I want solutions. So, I've researched what to do about the caterpillars on my property, all of which seem like expensive options when 5/6ths of my property are covered in trees that could all possibly be homes of these caterpillars. I could have the trees removed or have my trees treated with a pesticide, both options are probably massively expensive for the amount of work that would have to be done.
I wish I could end this with a solution but I haven't come across an affordable one or one that involves being able to go outside with a hazmat suit on for the rest of my life. So, I guess I gotta reach out: Is there any hope for us here in the Bangor area? Seriously- I want to know!