Times Record reports on Groden’s brown-tail moth research

The Times Record published an article on research being conducted by Ellie Groden, a professor of entomology at the University of Maine. Groden is working to rid the state of the brown-tail moth, an invasive insect that is prevalent throughout the Midcoast. The caterpillars eat leaves and can defoliate and kill entire trees. The insect also is covered with toxic hairs that can cause a rash similar to poison ivy if they come into contact with human skin, and can cause more serious respiratory issues if inhaled, the article states. Groden and her students track population levels and overwintering density in the Midcoast, as well as the winter survival rate. They also track disease levels and other factors to assess their impact on the population, according to the article. “Our whole idea is to look at under what conditions are these at higher densities and what conditions aren’t they? What’s favoring these natural enemies? We want to work with them, not against them,” Groden explained. She said one possible solution that could put a dent in the population would be to break down the protective nests that help the moths survive the winter.