Invasive moths appear on schedule in Harpswell

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HARPSWELL — Winter moths are out, and local organizers want residents to be prepared.

Robert McIntyre, a member of nonprofit Harpswell Heritage Apples who is working to inform residents about the invasive species, said winter moths were first seen Friday, Nov. 9.

The winter moth is primarily known for its destruction of trees. McIntyre said he advises people to not use pesticides against them, because the chemicals will hurt a parasitic fly that will be introduced next year to combat the moth.

Instead, he said residents should use a preventative technique on trees known as banding, in which tape is wrapped around a tree to prevent the female winter moths from laying eggs.

McIntyre said his organization and the Harpswell Garden Club have been holding informational sessions with the town at the Harpswell Heritage Land Trust at 153 Harpswell Neck Road.

Nov. 19 will be the last Monday residents can stop by, he said, for information, advice and materials to control the winter moths in their area.  

The banding materials will only be available in limited supply, McIntyre said, and people who need more material should be able to obtain it at local floral supply stores.

The town also has information available on its website.

Entomologists from state and federal departments and universities will be researching the winter moth population in Harpswell, along with aiding in efforts to combat it.

State entomologist Charlene Donahue said in September the town won’t be able to fully exterminate the species, but it can make a considerable dent in the population over the next few years.

“The winter moth won’t go away. It’s here,” she said. “This will just create an equilibrium so the impact is not as bad.”

Dylan Martin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or [email protected].  Follow him on Twitter: @DylanLJMartin.