The state of Maine has declared February Brown-Tail Moth Awareness month. The brown-tail moth caterpillar wreaks havoc on multiple types of trees, eating up to a third of their foliage, as well as causing people to break out into nasty skin rashes.

Tom Schmeelk at the Maine Forestry Service has an excellent talk that he gave on Feb. 22 (youtube.com/watch?v=k1diVe8QayM). The talk goes into the history of the brown-tail moth in Maine and has slideshows identifying nests and the caterpillars themselves.

It is believed that the moth arrived in Somerville, Mass., in 1897, and made its way up to Maine by 1904. The extent of spread ebbs and flows each year depending on a number of factors. In the early 2000s, only about 10,000 acres were affected in Maine; now in 2022, brown-tail moths are affecting about 200,000 acres. They are right up here in Jackson, devastating fruit trees and oaks. Apparently they only head for maple trees as a last resort.

A nice wet spring allows natural pathogens to collapse the population, so let’s hope we have a wet one. The caterpillars shed their skin anywhere from mid-April through July, so be especially careful then about outdoor exposure. Best thing to do is try and clip all the nests you can reach before April, and burn them, or, soak them in soapy water for 24 hours.

Jackson school board rep

The seat for a Jackson resident on the Regional School Unit 3 Board of Directors is up for election this year. It is a three-year term and the vote for all the school board members for RSU 3 will be on Election Day, June 14. Currently Jonathan Lorenz is our school board representative. Thank you Jonathan!

If you are interested in running for this seat, you need to pick up nomination papers from the Town Office on or before March 10. To be nominated and get your name on the ballot, you must collect at least 30 signatures from registered Jackson voters.

Love alpacas?!

I kept two alpacas for many years. They are an intriguing species of camelid, and while I don’t think I could ever see them as fully domesticated and tame, my boys, Macchu and Pichu, had an understanding. My vet was always very impressed with how I was able to halter and lead them.

If you are interested in possibly keeping these fascinating and fabulous fiber animals, you should take the 10-week class being offered by Northern Solstice Alpaca Farm — Alpaca 101: Exploring Everything Alpaca. The course is being offered through the Mount View RSU 3 Adult Ed program. FMI: rsu3.maineadulted.org or 568-3426.