The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has announced another invasive bug that has the potential to harm foliage in the Mitten State. The box tree moth now joins the spotted lanternfly on the list of harmful bugs that were detected in our state in 2022.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has confirmed the detection of box tree moths at two residences in Clinton located in Lenawee County. For those of you who enjoy quoting the official Latin names of creepy crawlers, the official name of the moth is Cydalima perspectalis. It is native to Asia and has been reported from China, India, Iran, Japan, and South Korea. It was found in Germany and the Netherlands in 2006, likely arriving in a shipment of Buxus plants from Asia. It is now found in 30 European countries. The Michigan DNR believes that in May 2021, a shipment of potentially infested boxwood plants was shipped to retail locations in several states including Michigan. They can’t confirm that the current infestation is linked to that shipment, it could have crossed our borders through a different pathway.

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The moth begins as a green and yellow caterpillar with white, yellow, and black stripes and black spots. They only feed on boxwood plants, making them easy to spot. As a moth they have two forms; the most common has white wings with dark brown borders. The second variety has solid brown wings with a white streak or spot on each forewing. Both forms have a distinctive white dot or mark in the middle of each forewing. 

Now that you know the dirty little facts about the moth, here’s what you can do: 

  • Check your boxwood plants for signs of box tree moths. 
  • If you see signs of box tree moth, please take a photo and report suspects online. 
  • Let state and federal agriculture officials inspect your boxwood for box tree moths. 
  • If a new population is confirmed, you may be directed to remove infested branches or, for heavy infestations, cut the boxwood from its base (it should grow back from its roots). Discard all boxwood debris by double-bagging it in plastic and putting it with your household trash. 

For photos and additional information on the box tree moth and other invasive plant pests, you can visit Michigan.gov/Invasives or Michigan.gov/Invasives/ID-Report/Insects/Box-Tree-Moth. 

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