Lock up your boxes – there are invaders

The Box-tree Moth (Cydalima perspectalis, Walker, 1859) is an invasive species that has reached the British Isles. It originated in Asia and its larvae feed on, as the name would suggest, various species of Buxus, box tree (known as boxwood in the US). It turned up in my scientific trap night of 11th July 2019. I almost missed logging it as it flew up to a window as I was opening the trap. I’ve sent a record to the Cambridgeshire County Record.*

Box-tree Moth (Cydalima perspectalis)
Box-tree Moth (Cydalima perspectalis)

It’s a pretty pearlescent moth and was first seen in Europe in 2006, in Germany, specifically. It is most likely to have hitched a ride on imported Boxus plants as eggs or larvae. It was first recorded in the British Isles in Kent in 2007, spread to Surrey, into London and the home counties and beyond. It is not known which counties it is now resident in, but there have been sighting, often to moth traps, across most of Southern England and further North. It has been recorded in Fife in Scotland. Spotted in Toronto, Canada in 2019.

The larvae will devour Buxus leaves and so disfigure ornamental and topiaried Buxus. Of course, it is the importing of particular species of these plants that has allowed this moth to spread, reinforcing the mantra that planting native species should be the ethical horticulturalists way forward.

* Bill Mansfield the County Moth Recorder got back to me this morning with a response to the Box-tree Moth sighting:

Box tree is pretty well established in Cambridge city from Trumpington to North Cambs so no surprise you’ve got it too. I dread it arriving in Ely, if it’s not already here. I’ve 20-metre of box hedge I’ve nurtured for eight years against everyone's best advice...

Author: bob投注平台

Award-winning freelance science writer, author of Deceived Wisdom. Sharp-shooting photographer and wannabe rockstar.