Falmouth will spray for browntail moth in spring

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FALMOUTH — The Town Council has approved spending $30,000 from the undesignated fund balance to fight the spreading infestation of browntail moth.

A survey of nests conducted last month revealed the problem is particularly acute in the northeastern part of town.

The town will hire Whitney Tree Service in New Gloucester to spray on town-owned property and along public streets this spring, Town Manager Nathan Poore said Monday. He said the town last sprayed to combat browntail moth in 2002.

Poore said the town received three responses to its request for proposals and  Whitney Tree offered the best service at the best value. He said the town of Cumberland has also used the company for the past several years and has been pleased with the results.

The inventory of browntail moth the town conducted in December shows the pest is spreading in town and is moving steadily inland.

Council Chairman Caleb Hemphill called hiring Whitney Tree “a sound proposal” that will “hopefully address our problem and nip it in the bud.”

Poore said Whitney Tree would use a mist sprayer that would “create less puddling and dripping” that specifically targets the browntail caterpillar and is not instantly harmful to other insects.

He said the goal was to make the spraying program as friendly as possible to beneficial pollinators, such as bees. To that end, Poore said Whitney Tree would not spray trees that are in blossom and would spray in the overnight and early morning hours when bees are dormant.

Along with the spraying, Poore told councilors to hope for “a wet soggy spring, which is very bad for browntail caterpillars.”