Boxwoods At Risk: Invasive Pest Found In U.S. For First Time



boxwoodsOn March 23, a quarantine was established for the box tree moth (BTM) in Erie, Niagara, and Orleans Counties in New York by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), in cooperation with the New York State Agriculture and Markets (NYSAGM).

The box tree moth is invasive pest that can significantly damage and potentially kill boxwood (Buxus species) plants if left unchecked. The insect is native to East Asia and has become a serious invasive pest in Europe, where it continues to spread. The caterpillars feed mostly on boxwood and heavy infestations can defoliate host plants. Once the leaves are gone, larvae consume the bark, leading to girdling and plant death.

Last July, APHIS confirmed the presence of box tree moth in Niagara County, NY. The moths flew or were blown into the area from Canada, where the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has confirmed its presence in the environment.boxwoodsbowoods

APHIS is now prohibiting the interstate movement of regulated articles of Buxus sp. from Erie, Niagara, and Orleans Counties. Regulated articles include the whole plant, all plant parts, pieces, cuttings, clippings, debris, and any portion of the plant, alive or dead. APHIS is taking this action to prevent the spread of BTM to the rest of the U.S. These measures parallel the intrastate quarantine that NYSAGM established last December.

NY Landscapers: Here’s how you can help prevent the box tree moth from spreading. Please allow State or Federal agricultural officials to inspect boxwoods and place insect traps if they visit a property. If you have boxwoods, please inspect them for signs of box tree moth and report any findings to your local USDA office or State agriculture department. You may also contact your local Cooperative Extension Service for information on pest management tools.

Photos from APHIS.

To read about three more tree and pest shrubs to watch out for, click here.