You should protect your trees from pest infestation to keep them growing healthy and beautiful. The box tree moth is perhaps the newest threat you’ll encounter on your Massachusetts property. As Andover’s trusted tree service, we take a deeper look into this invasive pest so you can know what to do when it attacks your trees.
What Is the Box Tree Moth?
The box tree moth, or Cydalima perspectalis, is native to Asia’s temperate and subtropical regions. It mainly feeds and completes its lifecycle on boxwood trees.
Its invasive nature was first reported in Europe in 2007. This is in part due to the fact that box tree moths are remarkably mobile and excellent fliers. Their natural spread in Europe is roughly three to six miles per year.
In 2021, the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed the moth’s presence in Niagara County, New York. The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources announced the first case of box tree moth infestation in communities on Cape Cod in August 2023. The MDAR and the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service are currently working to delimit the moth’s infestation.
What Does the Box Tree Moth Look Like?
Adult moths often feature white bodies with a brown head and abdomen. Their white wings are somewhat iridescent, with a 1.6- to 1.8-inch irregular thick brown border. You might find some adults with completely brown wings and a little white streak on each forewing.
Box tree moths produce pale yellow eggs in flat clusters of about five to 20 on the lower side of boxwood leaves. The eggs are about 0.04 inches in size. They develop a black spot as they mature, which represents the larval head.
Freshly hatched larvae feature black heads with green to yellow bodies. They develop dark-brown stripes on their bodies as they age. A mature larva is roughly 1.6 inches long with black and white stripes and black dots along the length of its body.
Box tree moth pupae form inside a silk cocoon and can be 0.6 to 0.8 inches in length. They’re green at first, with dark stripes on the back. They turn brown as they mature.
How To Spot a Box Tree Moth Infestation
If you have boxwoods, check for greenish-brown caterpillars about one to 1.5 inches long with black heads, dark stripes, and long hairs spread all over the body.
Box tree moth caterpillars create webbing in the boxwoods to safeguard themselves. In a severe infestation, this webbing may fill up with noticeable clumps of frass pellets, which are the moths’ waste material.
You may not notice signs of feeding damage at the early stages of infestation since young larvae hide in the foliage. They skeletonize the leaves and eat the bark, leading to dryness and defoliation. The plant’s health will deteriorate and eventually die.
Contact Your Local Tree Experts for Assistance
If you need help with a box tree moth infestation, East Coast Tree Service is your go-to local arborist. Call us at (781) 518-8014 for a free quote or to learn about how to treat a sick tree in Andover, MA, today!