AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine Conservation Department officials say an infestation of a noxious invasive caterpillar in the Brunswick area is worse this year than last.

Entomologists say web surveys during the winter show extremely high levels of brown-tail moth caterpillar webs in the tops of oak trees. Surveys were done in January and February in the southern Maine coastal area, from Belfast to south of Portland.

Entomologist Charlene Donahue says the number of webs in Brunswick, Bath, West Bath, Topsham and Bowdoinham appears to have doubled over last year. The caterpillar also is showing up in Falmouth, Turner, Augusta and Lewiston.

The brown-tail moth is an invasive species that arrived in the U.S. in around 1910. Its hairs can cause a blistery, oozy rash or respiratory distress for people who touch them.