How to recognize box tree moth 

The box tree moth can be found in two colour morphs; one with semi-transparent white wings with a dark edge and one that is completely dark. Caterpillars are green and have thick dark and thin white stripes across the length of the body. In addition, white lined black spots are visible across the length of the body. The host plant of box tree moths is box (Buxus sempervirens), which is toxic to most animals, including humans. The moth deposits eggs inside the leaves. The caterpillars that emerge from the eggs will start feeding from the inside to the outside. This results in late recognizing of infections. The plants can be totally defoliated by the caterpillars. This makes box tree moth a threat to box. 

Box tree moth caterpillar
Box tree moth caterpillar
Box tree moth light morph
Box tree moth light morph
Box tree moth dark morph
Box tree moth dark morph

Box tree moth damage and distribution 

Adult box tree moths can spread 5-10 kilometers on a yearly basis. The species originates from East-Asia, but is also found in Europa after introduction. Around 2005 is this species introduced in Germany with shipments of infected box from China. By now, the species is also advancing in the Netherlands, Great-Britain and France. The damage is mainly cosmetic, because the caterpillars defoliate (large parts) of plants. Plants die when they do not get the chance to recover between infestations. 

box tree moth Cydalima perspectalis damaged leaves
Damage by the box tree moth

Box tree moth life cycle

  • overwinters as young caterpillar
  • end May until mid June first generations of moths
  • end August second generation of moths
  • winter rest in October

Box tree moth host plants

  • exclusive to box (Buxus)
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Common caterpillar and moth species

Carnation tortrix
Box tree
moth
European pepper moth
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armyworm
Silver Y
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Bright-line brown-eye
Cabbage
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Tomato
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Oak
processionary