Invasive moths threaten local landscape, MSU Extension monitoring

Michigan

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — An invasion moth species has been detected in Michigan that threatens one of the most common shrubs used in landscaping.

Live moths were discovered in three states this spring — including Michigan — in shipments coming from Canada.

The caterpillars of the box tree moth feeds solely on boxwood tree shrubs, according to the Michigan State University Extension office in Kalamazoo.

Jeremy Jubenville, a greenhouse and floriculture educator at MSU Extension, says the U.S. Department of Agriculture acted quickly to prevent the moths from spreading.

“They also traced shrubs from those batches to residential locations in eight counties — five of which are in West Michigan,” Jubenville said.

Customers in Berrien, Kalamazoo, Kent, Ottawa and Muskegon counties received the plants and the extension is working with the owners to monitor for the moth.

The box tree moth has already decimated the shrubs in Europe.

“It was accidently introduced into Germany in 2007 and 14 year later, they have lost about 70% of their boxwoods in Europe,” Jubenville said.

MSU Extension is partnering with the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service for an early detection program.

“We have developed a program specifically for Michigan homeowners who have planted boxwoods in 2020 and 2021. It’s pretty easy, we will provide small paper traps. They can hang in the yard,” Jubenville said.

While the hope is the moth stays under control, Jubenville says constant monitoring is key.

“It was a close call this spring, and so I think that’s a wake-up call to our growers and to our residents that we’re going to keep an eye on it,” Jubenville said.

For more information on the moth or to learn how to take part in the surveillance program, visit the MSU Extension website or email invasive@msu.edu.

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