Things that make living in Maine a nightmare

Maine Sucks



I'm not talking about a "missing Allen wrench in my Ikea bookshelf" nightmare, I'm saying these things keep me up at night, cause health issues, cost money, and flat out have me pissed off all the time. The worst part of this is that we have to deal with each and one of the aforementioned pests.

[ ticks ]

[ mice ]



An intense infestation of browntail moth caterpillars hits midcoast Maine each year, triggering rashes or respiratory problems for hundreds of people who have come in contact with them or breathed in their microscopic poisonous hair fibers.

Freeport, Brunswick, Bath, Topsham and Bowdoinham are among the towns where the most damage to trees, primarily the oaks and apples that the caterpillars favor occur.

Pharmacist see 40 to 50 people per day coming into the pharmacy seeking relief from the rash caused by the invasive species. 


Browntail moth with Tanglefoot protection

The caterpillars have blanketed Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park in Freeport to the point where park rangers have posted signs warning people to beware of the caterpillars, as well as the rashes and respiratory problems they can cause. Every visitor who arrived at the Wolfe’s Neck gate this year was told of the conditions, said park ranger Michael Frey. “This is the worst we’ve ever seen it at the park,” he said. “The population has just exploded.” Frey said the entire staff at Wolfe’s Neck has been affected by the caterpillars, although like any allergic reaction, it varies from person to person. Some people can get an itchy rash or have trouble breathing just by walking in the woods, while others exhibit no symptoms.

But the caterpillars have been so numerous that the hair fibers they shed get everywhere and can float in the air for a while, causing respiratory problems, said Charlene Donahue, a Maine Forest Service entomologist. Treatments are similar to those for poison ivy.

“This is the most intense infestation I’ve seen since at least 2004. There was a lot of defoliation this year,” Donahue said. The caterpillars eat the leaves primarily on oak and apple trees, although they can infest other trees. “There were lots of trees with no leaves on them,” she said.


Browntail moths were accidentally introduced to the U.S. in 1897 and are usually located only in coastal southern Maine and on Cape Cod. The moth has no natural predators that can reduce its population. “Birds for the most part don’t eat them,” Donahue said.

Even though the problem will be much less severe by mid-July because the caterpillars are dying off, Donahue said the fibers can persist and still cause a rash. She said people should be careful when doing yard work, and wear gloves when cleaning out areas that could have been infested by the moths. Also, any cocoons that are spotted should be wet down before being removed, she said.

Non-chemical: Control of browntail moth populations in isolated areas may be obtained by clipping the overwintering webs and destroying these webs by either soaking in soapy water or burning them. This control should be undertaken in the winter and very early spring - September to mid-April.

Cocoons or caterpillars crawling on buildings can be removed with water from a high pressure hose.

Chemical :Webs and larvae are generally high up in trees and are difficult for a home owner to effectively control. Pesticides should be applied when caterpillars are small and feeding; usually before the end of May. Timing of pesticide treatment is critical, treatment before the end of May will prevent the development of the toxic hairs, treatment after the end of May will result in dead caterpillars and toxic hairs. Undertake control measures as early as possible to reduce the exposure to the irritating caterpillar hairs. 

Brown Tail Moths Are No Joke

Our trees and house exterior siding have became infested with brown tail moth caterpillars. All winter long, I read reports that they go after apple trees and oaks, the very same trees that surround our property. Between ticks and brown tails, I’m avoiding excessive time around the grass and more time inside my hobby shop.

[ mosquitos ]








Thread of frustration



Deer tick in Freeport

UGH - last night I found a tick burrowed completely under the skin. With NO urgent care facilities within 40mins and Kyan sound asleep - I decided to leave the thing in me until morning and not risk a botched removal. Pam is out of town so I had no choice but to try and sleep. Worst. The next day I did the Urgent Care a few towns over, had a blood screen, started a 10-day Z-Pac of Doxycycline, blood screen negative for Lyme disease. A few months later I went back to the clinic from Lyme like numbness and fogginess, still tested negative for Lyme. 


Maine strikes again... MICE! 



After four days of dealing with mice (killing is NOT an option for my animal loving wife and son) trapping and driving 2 miles to dump them in the park in freezing Maine nights, I’ve had it. The process isn’t that terrible but doing it one mouse at a time sucks. Well, I've always lived by the guiding principles of "building a better mousetrap" but I'm never thought to try it literally. Here goes..



A Live Trap for mice in Maine


After hearing horror stories of mice eating through plywood, drywall, tarps, and Tupperware, I’m starting out building the device from a denser polycarbonate container from Rubbermaid. I'll add the trade name at the second editing



Using a fine coping saw to cut out the door will make a nice tight seal if positioned consistently. The door will pivot at the top, stopped by flange tabs, and remain aligned perfecting in the cutout with a hinge... not sure how yet.



I'm using a small length of coat hanger wire hot glued to the outer lip of the container to act as the horizontal hinge point.



Test fitting the door and determining the best center of rotation for the door in relation to the coat hanger. The height and inside/outside position is critical.



Trying XMAS ornament hook wire around the coat hanger as the low-friction hinge. Just using one tie point worked the best as the subtle curve of the container and new door made two tie points off plane.


The final trap, loaded and ready for testing. The walls of the container are canted outwards just enough to let gravity keep the door shut, but not enough to keep a mouse out (I'm totally making all these assertions up as I go). In case the photo perspective isn't clear - the door will only push inwards The tabs are hot glued to the DOOR only and stop the door from swinging forward. Its Dec 14th, 2017 and I'm placing it at the scene of the crime in the attic. Fingers crossed - will append findings below.



Tick II 
Deer tick in Freeport 2018

Another tick burrowed completely under the skin after (maybe) an hour of outside time doing yard work to fend off the Browntail Moths for the coming summer. More on those bastards later. The next day I did the Urgent Care a few towns over, had a blood screen, started a 10-day Z-Pac of Doxycycline, blood screen negative for Lyme disease. A few months later I went back to the clinic from Lyme like numbness and fogginess, still tested negative for Lyme.