WATERVILLE — The city has treated more than 1,000 trees this spring for browntail moths in an effort to curb the spread of the invasive species that can cause skin rashes and respiratory problems in people.

City Councilor Thomas Klepach, D-Ward 3, launched the browntail mitigation effort, working with the city’s Public Works and Parks & Recreation departments. Klepach reported this week employees from those departments inserted insecticide implants in 599 trees inventoried by Bartlett Tree Experts.

Jameson Dow, left, and classmate Charlie Ferris, both 10, study a browntail moth caterpillar June 2 in a tree at Ferris’ yard in Waterville. Dow discovered the caterpillars had invaded the tree in front of his family’s house. The caterpillar, which has two distinctive reddish dots, has poisonous hairs that can cause a rash if exposed to skin. City crews this spring have treated more than 1,000 trees in Waterville in an effort to curtail the spread of browntail moths. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel file

They included 122 trees at Head of Falls, off Front Street; 116 at Quarry Road Recreation Area; 50 at North Street Playground; 21 at George J. Mitchell School; 11 at Waterville Senior High School; and 6 at Drummond Avenue Park.

The city has also treated 87 trees at Waterville Junior High School; 58 at Pine Ridge Recreation Area; 56 at the boat landing off Water Street; 39 at Green Street Park; 21 at Veterans Memorial Park, off Park Street; and 12 at Grove Street Park.

Crews have also treated trees that were not on Bartlett’s inventory but had browntail moth nests, Klepach said. So the number of trees treated at Head of Falls, for example, was more than 200, and about 150 were treated at the junior high school.

“They believe they treated well in excess of 1,000 trees on public property, with an estimated 4,000 inserts deployed,” Klepach said.


The city had used about 12,000 inserts and ran out of them earlier this week, but expected to receive more later in the week, according to Klepach.

“Up until this point, there have been approximately 500 trees treated on residential properties throughout the city, representing 8,000 of the inserts,” he said.

Klepach, a faculty member in the biology department at Colby College in Waterville, said people should flag trees because workers will treat them even if they are not part of the inventory.

City Manager Steve Daly said Thursday that if not for Klepach’s efforts to fight the browntail moths, “the city would be fumbling on the issue.”

“He’s picked up that job, he’s run with it and he’s done a comprehensive and thorough job,” Daly said. “We’re ahead of the game because of him.”

At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Klepach complimented the Public Works and Parks & Recreation departments for their work.

“They both deserve the thanks of everyone here in the city for the remarkable work they’ve done for the past week,” he said.

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