Traveling exhibit focuces on naturalist’s nightmares



Artist Jennifer Steen Booher’s tick panel.
PHOTO COURTESY OF JENNIFER STEEN BOOHER

SEAL HARBOR — Deer ticks and browntail moths are the things of many a person’s nightmares. 

The Naturalist’s Notebook in Seal Harbor is hosting Mount Desert Island Historical Society and its new traveling exhibit, We Change With Them, from 2-4 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 4, for a drop-in program called “Naturalist’s Nightmares: Browntail Moths and Deer Ticks.” 

Exhibit artist Jennifer Steen Booher, MDI Historical Society Executive Director Raney Bench and University of Maine scientists Angela Mech and Allison Gardener will be available on the back porch of The Naturalist’s Notebook to answer questions and share the work being done to document the impacts these species have on human health and the natural environment.  

Mech is an assistant professor of Forest Entomology who researches disturbance ecology. According to UMaine’s website, Mech is “working to develop a management plan for the Browntail Moth, to reduce the impacts of invasive forest insects, and to understand the relationship between non-native insects and North American trees.”  

Gardner is an assistant professor of Arthropod Vector Biology and a medical entomologist whose lab studies “emergence, spread, and sustainable management of infectious diseases that are transmitted by arthropod vectors, like mosquitoes or ticks. [This] collaborative research draws upon concepts and tools from diverse disciplines such as wildlife ecology, molecular biology, mathematics, geography, and public health.” 

Artist Jennifer Steen Booher’s browntail moth panel.
PHOTO COURTESY OF JENNIFER STEEN BOOHER

Booher’s We Change With Them artwork incorporates both the brown tail moth and deer tick. The project began in 2021 when she identified six changes she observed taking place around her: the collapse of shrimp populations and the influx of squid due to warming seas; colonization of oysters into island bays and harbors; species that cause public health issues, like brown tail moth caterpillars and ticks; invasive species that impact traditional Maine fisheries, like green crabs on clams; and threats to anadromous fish due to extreme weather events.  

With the support of the Maine Humanities Council and Bar Harbor Bank & Trust, the Historical Society created a traveling exhibit and speaker series to bring We Change With Them to “Museums Without Walls” in the community. All images in Booher’s series will be available for viewing. 

The exhibit and speaker series are part of the award-winning Landscape of Change project, the Historical Society’s joint initiative with Acadia National Park, Schoodic Institute, Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory, College of the Atlantic and A Climate to Thrive.  

As this event is outdoors, a rain date has been scheduled for the next afternoon at the same time. 

For more information, visit www.mdihistory.org/wechangewiththem, email [email protected] or call (207) 276-9323.  

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