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Browntail moths and winter pruning in Gorham

By Maria Wingfield, Office Manager 207 Landscaping/Tree Service

     Browntail moths go mostly unnoticed by homeowners until the spring and summer months, but by that time, removing the infestation is incredibly difficult and expensive. The ugly caterpillars that cause rashes can often be seen crawling across your driveways on their way to another tree. These pests thrive on leaves and can strip a healthy tree of foliage quickly. Oak, cherry, crab maple, plum and red oak are the trees typically impacted by these infestations. Trees must have foliage to complete their photosynthesis process, which means these caterpillars directly affect the heath of the tree. In fact, most trees can only survive two to three years of continuous infestation.

     Why is winter the best time to rid yourself of this pest? There are a few reasons, the first being that the caterpillars are dormant. They are not crawling all over the tree causing the workers removing the nests to miss caterpillars and have a new nest form a few days later. This also makes the work safer and faster. Browntail rashes are no joke. They itch and burn and last for a week or more. Kids get them in the summer by innocently playing with the fuzzy caterpillars, and arborists often get rashes from working in trees even with proper equipment and clothing. Removing these nests in the winter means that arborists can avoid the risk of rash too. 

     There are many benefits of winter tree maintenance, such as better visibility, slow sap run which means less damage to the tree, and less damage to the fall area below, helping to preserve the integrity of your lawn. Nest removals are also most effective when done in the winter. Browntail moth nests are less expensive to remove in the winter and winter removal is much more effective at eradicating the pests.

     Visibility is the key to this process. During the winter, homeowners should be taking inventory of their trees. Foliage is gone and your trees are bare, this is prime opportunity to take a look at your trees and understand what they may need. Taking note of the nests on your trees now, may save you having to remove the tree in a few years. The best way to protect your property from browntail moth infestations is to catch it early. Get the nests removed in the winter, when you can be sure that there will be no escaping caterpillars that can survive. Winter pruning of the branches that hold the nests are also better for the tree. Trees tend to be healthier when pruned while their sap flow is slow. The high visibility also allows for the arborist to prune the least amount necessary to remove the nest, which saves the integrity and visual appeal of your tree. 

     Tree health is important to the value of your property and should be maintained just as you maintain your gardens and landscaping. Trees that add visual appeal to your house, or trees that are within fall radius of your house should be evaluated first. Browntail moth nests are ugly, and if they are on trees that are within falling radius of your home, could potentially lead to rashes. 

     207 Landscaping/Tree serves Gorham and the surrounding areas. The owner is a Maine Licensed Arborist and is active within the Gorham community. Both our landscaping team and our tree team have years of extensive service within the industry and are committed to our customers. 

     Our reputation is our foundation. We make every effort to stay up to date on industry standards and are are committed to providing new solutions for our customers’ needs. 

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