Box Tree Moth

Cydalima perspectalis

Also known as Box Tree Caterpillar

Box tree moth caterpillar [Credit: Photo by Franz van Duns (CC BY-SA 4.0)]
Box tree moth caterpillar [Credit: Photo by Franz van Duns (CC BY-SA 4.0)]
Box tree moth caterpillar [Credit: Photo by Didier Descouens (CC BY-SA 4.0)]
Box tree moth caterpillar [Credit: Photo by Didier Descouens (CC BY-SA 4.0)]
Box tree moth - brown variant [Credit: Photo by Nagy Sándor (CC BY 3.0)]
Box tree moth - brown variant [Credit: Photo by Nagy Sándor (CC BY 3.0)]
Box tree moth pupa [Credit: Photo by Didier Descouens (CC BY-SA 4.0)]
Box tree moth pupa [Credit: Photo by Didier Descouens (CC BY-SA 4.0)]
Feeding damage caused by box tree moth caterpillars [Credit: Photo by Abesheva (CC BY-SA 4.0)]
Feeding damage caused by box tree moth caterpillars [Credit: Photo by Abesheva (CC BY-SA 4.0)]


Host Plants:

In the garden: Box hedge

Where Found:

Asia, Europe, and newly arrived in Canada and the US

Description:

Adults are attractive brown or brown and cream moths with a tuft of fur near the backs of their heads, with a wingspan of 4 to 4.5 cm (1.5 to 1.75 inches). Larval caterpillars have shiny black heads and longitudinal green and black stripes. Each of the caterpillar's body segments include white hairs, and markings that look like a pair of eyes. The larvae are found on leaf undersides, often with webbing that protects them from the elements.

Damage:

Young box hedge moth caterpillars rasp green tissue from leaf undersides so the leaves appear peeled. Older larvae skeletonize entire leaves. Persistent feeding weakens box, causes unsightly brown patches, and may kill weak plants.

Preventing Problems:

Carefully inspect new box hedging before planting them, because this pest has secretly spread in nurseries. As a safety precaution, treat new box with a Bacillus thruingiensis-based organic pesticide if any leaves show feeding damage.

Managing Outbreaks:

Wrap the end of a stick with outward-facing tape and use it to loosen and gather actively feeding caterpillars by swirling up webbing with the sticky end. Immediately treat plants with an organic pesticide with Bacillus thuringiensis or Spinosad as its active ingredient, taking care to cover leaf undersides. Repeat after 10 days to kill small larvae that may have hatched.

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