Most folks in Maine identify Stephen King with all things horror. But this summer we’re living through a different type of chilling story. This one is reality. A small critter, no bigger than a portion of your finger, has been wreaking havoc on the state’s midcoast region and there are no signs of a slowdown. The browntail moth caterpillars that have inundated the area have gained tons of attention, but other regions of Maine have been affected, too. Here’s what’s been reported and what you can do.

Camden, Belfast and Lincolnville are known for being some of the most quintessentially Maine towns in the midcoast.

But this summer the area has a whole new reputation and nobody’s happy about it.

Maine’s midcoast is currently experiencing a horrifying invasion of browntail moths and it’s making this otherwise idyllic region feel more like a horror film.

Browntail moths are actually native to Europoe, but they’ve been here for centuries.

Experts say that the issue has become significantly worse since 2015 due to our warmer summers and falls. They’ve seen some success in fighting the moths with fungus; however, our cooler, wetter temperatures haven’t allowed this fungus to thrive.

And so the midcoast is seeing trees be defoliated completely.

Residents can’t keep up with the proliferation of the creatures, but even if they could the hairs left behind remain for up to two years. That means the symptoms from exposure will also continue.

The caterpillars are easily identified by the reddish-orange dots on their backs. Those who live here know that these are not adorable creatures, but actually come with dangerous hairs that cause red, itchy rashes.

For some, the rash isn’t the worst of it. The tiny hairs can also cause respiratory problems which can last as long as the hairs do. A whopping two years!

The browntail moth feeds on a variety of plants, but you’re most likely to find them on local trees like oak, apple, and birch.

With hair, cocoons and bodies that cause health issues and hungry mouths that kill trees, folks in the area are becoming restless.

As scientists and arborists work to find a way to provide relief, Mainers should take caution in dealing with the issue. Be careful in any areas where you feel the moths might be and always avoid contact.

At the very least we can take comfort in knowing that the moths will go back to their little beds in just a few months. That might give us another winter to find a way to avoid this situation next year.

If you live in Maine and want to know more about browntail moth caperpillars, you’re urged to call 211 or 866-811-5695 to find out how you can protect yourself and your home.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the only tiny critter to bother Mainers. Ticks have been on the rise for years and this season has been no different. Read all about what to expect this year and how you can protect yourself.