Those in the know say this year is on track to be the worst season Penobscot County has seen, so far, when it comes to Browntail Moth caterpillars and the damage they can cause to the people around them.

That being said, in years past, when these little suckers have hatched and then moved about, folks all over the place have been left to suffer the effects of a nasty, itchy rash. And because they were looking for any and every method of relief, there have been shortages of the ingredients needed to make said remedies.

That's why we're offering up these recipes now, so you'll have plenty of time to source your supplies now and have them when you need them.

The rash:

A lot of people tend to end up with issues after spending time doing either yard work or after spending time at some of the local parks, especially Fairmount. So make sure you cover up the kids before they go out to play.

If you have had the misfortune of coming across a caterpillar, and you think you might have a rash because of it,  it's presenting as red splotches that itch like the dickens!

Suzanne Guiggey
Suzanne Guiggey

According to website, "The browntail moth caterpillar has tiny poisonous hairs that cause dermatitis similar to poison ivy on sensitive individuals. People may develop dermatitis from direct contact with the caterpillar or indirectly from contact with airborne hairs. Most people affected by the hairs develop a localized rash that will last for a few hours up to several days but on some sensitive individuals the rash can be severe and last for several weeks."

The rashes and irritation do not discriminate; they hit everyone--young and old.

Because these toxic little hairs go airborne, you run the risk of coming across this nastiness from a simple walk to the mailbox.

And folks across the state are looking for some relief.

Some Possible Remedies:

Now--let me start by saying I'm not a medical professional: your best bet is always to call someone trained for this stuff first.

Here are some telltale signs you might have come in contact with Browntail Moth Caterpillar Hair: very itchy blotchy, slightly raised pink/red skin.

One remedy that's been offered:

  • 1/4 cup Witch Hazel
  • 2 Tablespoons calamine lotion
  • 1 Tablespoon Benadryl Cream
  • 1 Tablespoon Steroid Cream
  • Apply frequently.

That being said, here are some things local folks trying that you may want to consider.

I've heard some people say that if you shower right after you're exposed and then use duct tape on the affected area to remove the little hairs. They say to put Preparation H on the itchy spots after that.

A friend of mine shared this recipe for an over-the-counter concoction that's been made in the past by the folks at Maine General Medical Center.

Here's what you'll need: 

  • 1/4 Cup of Witch Hazel
  • 1/2 Tube of Hydrocortisone Cream
  • 1/2 Tube of Diphenhydramine
  • 1/4 Tube of Aspercream or Lidocaine cream

Place all in a plastic bottle, shake well, and use as directed.

You can also add a few drops of menthol oil drops to that mixture to add a cooling sensation.

I've had some friends try this and say that it has brought them some relief.

The only real issue with this remedy seems to be that it's been difficult to find some of the ingredients locally because everyone seems to be thinking the same thing, and the risk is that the supplies won't be available at the store when you go to buy them.

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A Method To Help Stop The Spread of those darn things!

The other possible helpful tip that I've seen circulating about is a method of trapping and killing the little buggers while they're in moth form, to prevent them from breeding. At the very least, knowing that you're killing the culprits for your terrible itch, might bring you some mental relief!

Here's what you'll need for that:

  • A large container full of water & dish soap
  • A light source (clip light, glow sticks, some sort of lamp)

Carefully attach the light close to the surface and make sure to leave it on overnight.

Once you have a full container, dig a hole and bury the moth bodies (keeps the air from becoming airborne again!)

Good luck out there!

University of Maine Researchers Doing Browntail Moth Study

This pilot study is determining if pheromones could be the key to disrupting the Maine pests population and help reduce the infestation across the State of Maine. Ultimately, this research could be the large scale answer to dealing with the Browntail Moth problem here in the state.

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