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Posted on: May 14, 2019

Deering Oaks Park Browntail Moth Infestation Treatment

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Portland’s Parks, Recreation & Facilities Department has been monitoring the condition of oak trees in Deering Oaks Park and is gearing up to take care of a limited infestation of browntail moth. Following the lead of several midcoast communities -- and in conjunction with recommendations from the Maine Forest Service -- the City’s Forestry staff will follow best practices to control the issue. 

Forestry crews have been clipping branches over the last several months to help curtail the issue. Unfortunately, they have found a dozen large heritage White Oak trees that need treatment. With the help of Davey Tree Experts & Whitney Tree Service, crews will do a trial comparison by injecting a number of trees along with traditional spray application. The success of both kinds of applications will be evaluated over the upcoming season. Browntail Moth control treatments will take place during the early morning hours, and crews will make sure no one is in the park area during this time. Any spray work should be complete by 8:00 AM. The product being used is specific to molting insects, so it will not affect other beneficial insects or animals. 

The work cannot be done until the leaves start to grow, which is dependent on warmer weather. It is anticipated that this work will begin the week of May 20 once the leaves emerge. 

It is imperative that crews conduct this work now in order to protect the public health of parks visitors as once the hairs are in the air, it is too late to treat. It is also imperative to conduct this work now as the moths can harm and even kill the trees over a couple seasons. Parks staff will continually evaluate how this program works and will make changes as necessary. According to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the browntail moth caterpillar has tiny poisonous hairs that can cause a rash similar to poison ivy on sensitive individuals.

For more information on browntail moths, visit: Maine Forest Service & Maine CDC.

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