Down East magazine spotlights research by Groden, Mech on browntail moth caterpillars

Down East magazine wrote about research by Eleanor Groden, a recently retired professor of entomology at the University of Maine, in an article about browntail moth caterpillars. Maine’s browntail outbreak covered 64,000 acres of forest in 2016 and increased to twice that by 2018, according to the article. Biologists do not know what caused it, but Groden and a team of researchers are trying to find answers. Along with Maine Forest Service collaborators, they are coming up with ways to weaken nests and prevent caterpillars from emerging in the first place. Angela Mech, an assistant professor of forest entomology at UMaine, is part of a team conducting experiments on how different environmentally friendly options — from essential oils to detergents to tiny pathogenic worms called nematodes — could weaken those protective winter webs, according to the article. “I don’t know that we have any potential long-term strategies that are going to solve the outbreak,” said Groden.