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Invasive box tree moths detected in Niagara County

A box tree moth
NYS Department of Agricultural and Markets

Another invasive pest has been detected in Western New York.

The state Department of Agriculture and Markets confirmed Wednesday the detection of box tree moths in Niagara County. The moths are from East Asia and are a major threat to the boxwood plant, a popular ornamental shrub.

Five adult bugs were discovered in July near the Canadian border, indicating they may have flown or been blown in from Canada. On Aug. 6, an inspector discovered box tree moth larvae in a residential landscape in Youngstown.

Signs of a box tree moth feeding on a plant include chewed, cut or missing leaves, yellowing or brown leaves, white webbing and green-black excrement on or around the plant. Larvae skeletonize the leaves and feed on the bark, causing defoliation and dryness, eventually leading to the plant’s death.

"We need the public’s help to eradicate this pest," said Allen Proxmire, National Policy Manager in USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. "If you find signs of infestation in your boxwoods, please take pictures and include them in your report.”

Proxmire recommended residents contact their county Cornell Cooperative Extension service for information about pesticides available to consumers to kill the insects. He also said the most environmentally safe precaution for infested plant material disposal is to bag it, safeguard it on site and contact the Department of Agriculture through its reporting tool at https://arcg.is/1Df8Se.