Category Archives: Invasive Plants & Insects

Browntail Moth Update #7- June 10, 2022

The Maine Department of Agriculture Conservation & Forestry has issued a Status Update on the Browntail Moth infestation currently impacting the State, and it’s GOOD NEWS! Numbers are way down at their monitoring sites: “This week we are pleased to report we observed at least some fungus-caused mortality at all of our monitoring sites. At a few sites, it wasn’t easy to find live caterpillars to take measurements from, although we did find some after looking on trees a short walk down the road.” While this is generally good news, I know some of you on or around Clary Lake are still in Browntail Moth Hell, and I sympathize. Be patient, this pest is on the way out.

Here’s the bulletin, there’s other interesting information in it besides Browntail Moth news:

Summer 2022 Browntail Moth Forecast

The State of Maine has released a new map using the ArcGis mapping platform to show the state of the Browntail Moth infestation in Maine this year. Last year’s outbreak of the pest was the worst every seen in Maine, and it looks like this year will be very bad again. However, it looks to me like some of the areas that were hardest hit last year (including my property!) may experience less of a problem this year. My property on Clary Lake is surrounded by large red oak trees, and last year ALL of them were completely defoliated for the second year in a row. I feared a third year as bad as the previous two would doom many of my trees. I’m happy to report however that this year I’ve only spotted 1 caterpillar on my screen door and no evidence at all of caterpillars eating the emerging oak leaves. My fingers are crossed, it looks like we won’t suffer a repeat of the last two years this summer. Continue reading

01 April 2022: Unidentified Animal Sighted on Clary Lake

I spotted this Clary Lake critter this morning when I was out checking my rain gauge. At first I thought it was a goose but the sound it made wasn’t goose-like at all. Sounded more like… I dunno. It was weird. It didn’t stick around. Fortunately I was able to find a picture of it in the webcam archive. Anyone have any idea what this is?

Public Hearing on LD 1826: Interagency Task Force on Invasive Aquatic Plants and Nuisance Species

Sorry for the short notice! This public hearing is TOMORROW! I received this notice of pending legislation in my mailbox just now and decided to post it on our site. The Clary Lake Association is deeply concerned with protecting all Maine lakes and Clary Lake in particular from the unwanted introduction of invasive species. To that end we are 3 years into a long term Courtesy Boat Inspection program and are developing plans for an Invasive Plant Program for Clary Lake. Submitting a short comment to the Environment and Natural Resources Committee is simple and worthwhile. You can see what comments have already been left at the above link. Comments need not be long or involved. This is important. Thank you for being concerned.

The second session of the 130th legislature is underway! While there is a lot going on during the session, there are only a few lake bills we’ll be reaching out to you about this year. The first one has a public hearing coming up soon: Monday, January 10th at 10:30 a.m. via Zoom.

LD 1826 creates a subcommittee of the existing Interagency Task Force on Invasive Aquatic Plants and Nuisance Species. The subcommittee will: Continue reading

17 August 2021: Milfoil Returns to Cobbossee Lake

Variable Leaf Milfoil, Pleasant Pond, Litchfield Maine.

Eurasian Water-Milfoil was discovered in  Cobbossee Lake in 2018 (see our post dated August 8, 2018: “Invasive Milfoil Confirmed in Cobbosseecontee Lake“). The following year Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection treated several areas of the lake with an herbicide in an attempt to kill off the invasive plant. They were optimistic that the treatment would be successful because the infestation was limited (so they thought) to roughly an acre between the north shore and Island Park. Sadly, the following year Milfoil was again discovered in several areas adjacent to the original infestation, which is where this Central Maine Papers newspaper article picks up. Please read it! It paints an ugly but accurate picture of  the situation they’re facing trying to eradicate this unwanted aquatic plant: Continue reading

Call To Action: Help Fight Invasive Purple Loosestrife!


Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)

For the past 3-4 years I’ve been removing isolated instances of the non-native invasive plant Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) that I have found growing in and around Clary Lake. With the help of a couple of other people we’ve been able to keep this invasive plant at bay, but the situation is getting worse and I’m no longer able to keep on top of this issue without enlisting more help. Clary’s lakeshore residents need to step up to help manage this threat. It really is important that we prevent Purple Loosestrife from gaining a solid foothold around Clary Lake.

This year I’ve seen more Purple Loosestrife growing than ever before. A few weeks ago, Kelsie French and I spent half an hour pulling up plants growing down on the east end of the lake and the other day, some of them growing on the edge of the water, and some in as much as 3 feet of water. I spotted another large plant growing on the edge of the marsh over by Duncan Road the other day but was unable to get to it in my boat. You can see a good sized field of it doing what it does best, spreading uncontrolled in a small field across the road from the Whitefield Post Office. I’ve written about this invasive plant several times in recent years (see “29 July 2018: Have You Seen This Plant? [UPDATED]“). We need to take seriously the threat this invasive plant poses for Clary Lake. Continue reading

15 June 2021: Trapping Browntail Moths

How to tell male from female Browntail Moths.

While killing Browntail moth caterpillars is easy and may make you feel better, it’s problematic for a variety of reasons. First, it gives you the sense that you’re doing something to rid yourself of the Browntail problem when in reality you’re probably not making a dent at all in the caterpillar population. If you just spray them with soapy water, sure it kills them, but then you’ve got dead caterpillars with their toxic hairs laying around your yard. I did that last month, fanatically wandering around my deck and yard with a spray bottle of soapy water in each hand, shooting caterpillars like some madcap wild west gunslinger. Of course, I got the rash on my arms and neck. Then I put aside the spray bottles and took up a tin can with some soapy water in it and kitchen tongs and went around picking the caterpillars up and dropping them in the can. More rash. Now that the caterpillars have begun pupating, I’ve been searching for the nests, cutting down those that I can reach with my tree pruner, and soaking them in a bucket of soapy water. Is this helping? I sure hope so, but I have my doubts. Continue reading

Browntail Moth Hell [UPDATED]

Browntail Moth Caterpillar

Browntail Moth Caterpillar

If you’ve managed to avoid getting a Browntail Moth rash so far this summer, congratulations- and be careful, the summer isn’t over yet. Many of us haven’t been so lucky, myself and my wife (and most of my neighbors) included. My house is surrounded by large Red Oak trees that hang over my yard and deck. Last year we were still somewhat oblivious to the caterpillars and the risk they pose with the result that we got extensive rashes over large portions of our backs, necks, and arms. This year we’ve been more cautious and have avoided hanging out on our deck and in our yard, with the result that the rashes we’ve developed haven’t been as bad or extensive as they were last year, but they have still been very unpleasant. Both my wife and I have had a few sleepless nights so far this year. Even now as I type this, my hands are itching. Continue reading

22 April 2021: Browntail Moth Update

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry (DACF) and other groups are predicting the 2021 Browntail Moth season will be a bad one. A recent article in the Bangor Daily News (worth reading!) is claiming this will be the worst infestation of BTM in over a century. It sounds like hyperbole but could well be true. The picture at left is a small section of a Browntail Moth 2021 Winter Web Moth Survey (PDF) published by the DACF shows the results of a drive-by survey conducted earlier this winter, hence the survey data are along major roads. The blow up includes Whitefield & Jefferson and shows medium to heavy concentrations of Browntail moth webs along Routes 126, 218, and 215 (South Clary Road). Of particular concern is not just the number of webs spotted (dot colors primarily yellow, tan, and red), but the density of dots which is an indication of how many individual vehicle stops were made. I’ve inserted the above picture into Google Earth. Download this KMZ file and load it into Google Earth. Continue reading

09 March 2021: IF&W Issues Invasive Species Alert

I was talking with a friend the other day about different ways that invasive plant and animal species can find their way into Maine lakes. One common way that doesn’t immediately come to mind is summer visitors dumping their aquariums including potentially invasive plant and animal species into a lake or pond at the end of the vacation season. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife sent this PSA around today:


Attention home aquarium owners:

moss ball and moss ball display at pet store

Left: a moss ball, Right: display of moss balls for sale at a pet store


Invasive zebra mussels have been found in “moss balls,” an aquarium plant product sold in Maine. Moss balls are commonly sold under trade names such as “Betta Buddy.” Zebra mussels, which so far have not become established in Maine, are one of the most destructive invasive species in North America.

If you recently purchased moss balls, immediately destroy them using one of these methods:

  • Freeze – Place the moss ball into a sealable plastic bag and freeze for at least 24 hours.
  • Boil – Place the moss ball in boiling water for at least 1 full minute.
  • Bleach – Submerge the moss ball in chlorine bleach for 20 minutes.

After destroying the moss ball, DISPOSE of the moss ball and any of its packaging in a sealed plastic bag in the trash. Do not dump moss balls down drains or in waterways or gardens.

If moss balls were placed in your aquarium, DRAIN and clean the aquarium:

  1.  Please remove fish and other living organisms and place them in another container, with water from a separate, uncontaminated water source.
  2. Aquatic plants may also harbor zebra mussels and should be destroyed along with the moss ball.
  3. Sterilize the aquarium water by adding 1 cup of bleach for each gallon of water. Sterilize filter, rocks, décor, and any other items in contact with the water.
  4. Let the water sit for 10 minutes and then dispose of the treated water down a household drain.

Thank you for doing your part to keep this invasive species out of Maine’s waterways.