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 hostplant 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 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 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)

  • Box tree moth dark morph

  • Box tree moth light morph