BRUNSWICK (NEWS CENTER Maine) -- Mainers, especially those who live on the Midcoast, are all too familiar with brown tail moths. But there's another version of the pesky pests that you may have noticed in your yard. They too can wreak havoc on trees, and in the case of one Maine woman, her health, too.
Wanting to know what they are, she wrote to us:
Would like to know how to get rid of these. Could my coughing and breathing issue have been caused by trying to get rid of them?
We get some answers in this latest #ASKnow.
"Disturbing to see them all over the house and near my windows."
Brunswick resident Donna Deigan first noticed clusters of these tiny creatures when she left her home Monday.
"Probably thousands of them....all over the house"
Deigan says it was gross. She tried to pressure wash them. Shortly after she suffered an asthma attack.
"I've never had an asthma attack as bad as it was the other night."
The next day the creepy crawlies came back.
"It makes me wonder if there are others underneath the house?"
And so did her asthma attacks.
"I was really afraid that I could have died."
Desperate for answers, Deigan reached out to us.
"You see them all over the gutter."
We sent our images to Colleen Teerling, an entomologist with the Maine Forest Service.
"This is Gypsy moth," says Teerling. "There was a gypsy moth egg mass that was laid last year on the siding there and they have just hatched."
She says they are likely looking for a tree to feed on, like this oak tree just steps away. The tree though, is the least of Deigan's concerns.
"If you are asthmatic certainly, you see all those little hairs? If you breathe in the hairs they can be irritating."
Teerling says the best way to get rid of them at this point is to wash them away with soapy water. The key ingredient here is soap; water straight from your garden hose won't do the trick. According to the Maine Forest Service, insecticides can also be applied to control the caterpillars
"Now I just want these things gone," says Deigan.
"No way, that's what we have!" Kandace Thibeault lives in the Cooks Corner area of Brunswick. She said she noticed the gypsy moths on Monday on a children's slide in her backyard. So far, she and her family have had no health issues.
"We have a birch tree in our backyard and last year it was infested with browntail moths....I was thinking it was them." Last year she says she got bad rashes, just having the windows open.