How many times have you had the rash?

At this point, I've lost count. And it sucks, because I have weird skin and it reacts pretty harshly to all the summer skin troubles. I'm miserably allergic to poison ivy, and when I get BTM rash, I fell like I somehow manage to get it everywhere. Of course, in Maine's summers, that's not hard to do.

The itchy little hairs practically rain out of thin air all summer. I swear, more often than not, people who think they have poison ivy, quite likely have BTM rash. And it's no joke. You only have to get it one time, to know that you never want it again. Thank god there's no shortage of halfway decent home remedies that help mitigate the scratching.

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But... Maine may be getting a little break, thanks to zombification!

group of zombies
becky rockwood

I'm only sort of joking... But right now is obviously prime time for the itchy hairs from the BTM caterpillars. Now through late June, and even a bit beyond. But we may actually see a little respite from the critters this year, thanks to a natural fungus, called entomophaga aulicae, according to the Portland Press Herald. It basically turns the caterpillars into little zombies.

A lot of times the fungus spreads in the fall. But if there's another outbreak in the spring, it can wreak serious havoc on the BTM caterpillar population. New crawlers run into dead ones in the nest and it infects them. Then these new cadavers, will infect others and help reinforce the dying-off process.

Candida auris fungi, emerging multidrug resistant fungus, 3D illustration

What will happen if it doesn't go that direction?

Well, then we are likely in for the opposite of what we're talking about, and there'd be considerably high concentrations of them, instead. So really, we should be praying for this fungus to do its thing. Folks at the University of Maine have been collecting nests all winter, and see a lot of evidence of the fungus in them.

This doesn't guarantee anything, though. Only time will tell what level of devastation that the fall and spring funguses will cause for the caterpillars. All we can do at this point is cross our fingers and hope for the worst. Or is that the best? I think you probably know what I mean...

Stop scratching, and think about all the cool shows you'll go to this summer...

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