Cydalima perspectalis (box tree moth)
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PicturesTop of page
|Caption||Cydalima perspectalis (box-tree moth); adult female.|
|Adult female||Cydalima perspectalis (box-tree moth); adult female.||©Florine Leuthardt-2013|
|Caption||Cydalima perspectalis (box-tree moth); adult male.|
|Adult male||Cydalima perspectalis (box-tree moth); adult male.||©Florine Leuthardt-2013|
|Caption||Cydalima perspectalis (box-tree moth); young larval stage (L2).|
|Larva||Cydalima perspectalis (box-tree moth); young larval stage (L2).||©Florine Leuthardt-2013|
|Caption||Cydalima perspectalis (box-tree moth); late larval stage (L5 or L6).|
|Larva||Cydalima perspectalis (box-tree moth); late larval stage (L5 or L6).||©Florine Leuthardt-2013|
|Caption||Cydalima perspectalis (box tree moth); larva on box (Buxus spp.) leaves. Fronton, Haute-Garonne, France. July, 2014.|
|Copyright||©Didier Descouens-2014/Muséum de Toulouse/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 4.0|
|Larva||Cydalima perspectalis (box tree moth); larva on box (Buxus spp.) leaves. Fronton, Haute-Garonne, France. July, 2014.||©Didier Descouens-2014/Muséum de Toulouse/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 4.0|
|Caption||Cydalima perspectalis (box tree moth); larval feeding damage.|
|Feeding damage||Cydalima perspectalis (box tree moth); larval feeding damage.||©Florine Leuthardt-2013|
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Cydalima perspectalis (Walker, 1859)
Preferred Common Name
Other Scientific Names
- Diaphania perspectalis (Walker, 1859)
- Glyphodes perspectalis (Walker, 1859)
- Palpita perspectalis (Walker, 1859)
Local Common Names
- French: pyrale du buis
- Germany: buchsbaumzünsler
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
The box tree moth, Cydalima perspectalis, is native to East Asia (Inoue et al., 1982). It was first recorded in Europe in 2007, in southwest Germany and the Netherlands (Krüger, 2008; Straten and Muus, 2010). Since then it has been recorded in many other European countries, and climate models predict further spread of the species in Europe, invading most areas except for Northern Fenno-Scandinavia, Northern Scotland and high mountain regions (Nacambo et al., 2014). In the newly invaded regions, C. perspectalis larvae feed on the leaves of box trees, Buxus spp., resulting in defoliation, which can kill the trees. The most significant damage, however, can be from the larvae attacking the bark of box trees causing the trees to dry out and die. Besides cultural and economic effects, the most serious threat from C. perspectalis is on the natural Buxus populations (Kenis et al., 2013). The species is easily introduced accidentally with its host plant, which is extensively traded over Europe and therefore presents a serious threat (Leuthardt et al., 2010; Straten and Muus, 2010).
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Subphylum: Uniramia
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Lepidoptera
- Family: Pyralidae
- Genus: Cydalima
- Species: Cydalima perspectalis
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
The nomenclature of Cydalima perspectalis has only recently been adapted (Mally and Nuss, 2010). Since its first record of presence in 2006, the species has been placed in a number of different Spilomeline genera. These have included Palpita (Hübner, 1808), Diaphania (Hübner, 1818), Glyphodes (Guenée, 1854) and the monotypic Neoglyphodes (Streltzov, 2008). Recent morphologic and phylogenetic analyses have shown that C. perspectalis belongs to a monophylum including the genera Glyphodes, Palpita and Diaphania (Mally and Nuss, 2010).
DescriptionTop of page
In general, the adult form has white, slightly iridescent wings with a dark brown band at the outer margin and a characteristic white spot on the forewing, in the discoidal cell (Mally and Nuss, 2010). Some individuals may have a brown anal margin in the forewing and some may be entirely brown, but still show a white forewing spot. The wingspan can reach 4 cm. Adults can reach a lifespan of up to two weeks and are good flyers. During daytime, they tend to rest on the box trees or on other surrounding plants.
The primitive egg clusters deposited on the leaves of box trees consist of a translucent gelatinous mass containing 5-20 eggs (Leuthardt and Baur, 2013). The light green larvae are characterized by black stripes with white dots and hairs and a shiny black head. The larvae hatched from one single egg cluster can spread over an area of 20-25 cm diameter on a tree until pupation (Leuthardt and Baur, 2013); the feeding damage they have caused is easily visible. In the last larval stage they can reach a length of up to 4 cm.
Pupae are well hidden between leaves and rarely visible in the field. Although green at the beginning of pupation, they become light brown with a dark pattern corresponding to the brown wing borders of the adult towards the end of pupation.
The life-cycle of C. perspectalis includes an obligate diapause of 6-8 weeks (Nacambo et al., 2014). The number may vary from one to four generations per year. Threshold temperatures for the development of eggs, larvae and pupae vary between 8°C and 12°C, depending on factors such as the geographical location of the investigated population (Maruyama and Shinkaji, 1987; Nacambo et al., 2014).
DistributionTop of page
C. perspectalis is naturally distributed in the temperate and subtropical regions of East Asia, including China, Japan and Korea (Inoue et al., 1982). It has been recorded in South Korea as widespread (Park et al., 2008) and similarly is likely to be widespread and is probably native to North Korea. Mally and Nuss (2010) state that C. perspectalis is native to India, but the only record of the pest from India is old and needs confirmation (Hampson, 1896). The moth has also been recently observed in the Russian Far East (Kirpichnikova, 2005), but it is probably not native there because box trees are also introduced in the region. It was first recorded in Europe in 2007, in southwest Germany and the Netherlands (Krüger, 2008; Straten and Muus, 2010) and since then it has been recorded in most European countries. The distribution and habitat preferences of C. perspectalis are closely related to that of its host plant, Buxus spp., both in its native and invaded range. A climatic model predicting the potential distribution of the moth in its native and invaded range suggests that the moth may occur outside its known distribution range, i.e. in tropical areas of south and Southeast Asia, but its known range may be limited by the fact that it feeds essentially on temperate Buxus spp. or by the lack of knowledge. The predicted distribution is limited in the north by the insufficient degree-days to complete one generation and/or by cold stress. Severe outbreaks seem to occur only in regions where two generations are possible. In the south, it is limited by the diapause requirements which, in tropical areas, may be met only at higher altitudes (Nacambo et al., 2014).
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.
|Country||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||References||Notes|
|China||Present||Native||Walker, 1859; Inoue, 1982; Yang et al., 2011; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2012|
|-Anhui||Widespread||Native||Not invasive||Inoue, 1982; Cheng, 2005|
|-Beijing||Widespread||Native||Not invasive||Inoue, 1982; Yang et al., 2011|
|-Chongqing||Widespread||Native||Not invasive||Yin, 2012|
|-Fujian||Widespread||Native||Not invasive||Inoue, 1982; Wei & Chen, 2010; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2012|
|-Gansu||Widespread||Native||Not invasive||Inoue, 1982|
|-Guangdong||Widespread||Native||Not invasive||Inoue, 1982; Qiu et al., 2005|
|-Guangxi||Widespread||Native||Not invasive||Huang & Li, 2001|
|-Guizhou||Widespread||Native||Not invasive||Inoue, 1982; Qiu et al., 2005|
|-Hainan||Widespread||Native||Not invasive||Inoue, 1982; Li et al., 2012|
|-Hebei||Widespread||Native||Not invasive||Inoue, 1982; Li, 1994|
|-Henan||Widespread||Native||Not invasive||Shi & Hu, 2007|
|-Hubei||Widespread||Native||Not invasive||Inoue, 1982; Wang et al., 2012|
|-Hunan||Widespread||Native||Not invasive||Inoue, 1982; Yang et al., 2011|
|-Jiangsu||Widespread||Native||Not invasive||Chen, 2008; CABI/EPPO, 2012|
|-Jiangxi||Widespread||Native||Not invasive||Xu & Liang, 2001|
|-Liaoning||Widespread||Native||Not invasive||Inoue, 1982; Yang et al., 2011|
|-Qinghai||Widespread||Native||Not invasive||Inoue, 1982; Yin, 2012|
|-Shaanxi||Widespread||Native||Not invasive||Fang & Hui, 1998|
|-Shandong||Widespread||Native||Not invasive||Hu et al., 1993; Niu et al., 2008|
|-Shanghai||Widespread||Native||Not invasive||Tang, 1993|
|-Sichuan||Widespread||Native||Not invasive||Inoue, 1982; Zhu, 1990|
|-Tianjin||Widespread||Native||Not invasive||Yang et al., 2011|
|-Tibet||Widespread||Native||Not invasive||Inoue, 1982; Yang et al., 2011|
|-Yunnan||Widespread||Native||Not invasive||Inoue, 1982; Li et al., 2012|
|-Zhejiang||Widespread||Native||Not invasive||Chen et al., 2005; She & Feng, 2006|
|India||Absent, unreliable record||Hampson, 1896; CABI/EPPO, 2012|
|Japan||Widespread||Inoue, 1982; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2012|
|-Honshu||Widespread||Inoue, 1982; Inoue, 1982; CABI/EPPO, 2012|
|-Ryukyu Archipelago||Widespread||Inoue, 1982|
|Korea, Republic of||Widespread||Native||Not invasive||Park, 2008; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2012|
|Turkey||Localised||Introduced||Invasive||Hizal, 2012; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2012; Öztürk et al., 2016|
|Austria||Widespread||Introduced||Invasive||Rodeland, 2009; Perny, 2010; Straten & Muus, 2010; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2012|
|Belgium||Localised||Introduced||Invasive||Casteels et al., 2011; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2012|
|Bosnia-Hercegovina||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Ostojic et al., 2015|
|Bulgaria||Restricted distribution||Introduced||Invasive||Beshkov et al., 2015|
|Croatia||Present||Introduced||Invasive||EPPO, 2014; Koren & Crne, 2012; Matosevic, 2013|
|Czech Republic||Present||Introduced||Invasive||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2012|
|Denmark||Restricted distribution||GBIF, 2016|
|France||Localised||Introduced||Invasive||Feldtrauer et al., 2009; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2012|
|-France (mainland)||Restricted distribution||Introduced||Invasive||CABI/EPPO, 2012|
|Germany||Localised||Introduced||Invasive||Kruger, 2008; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2012|
|Greece||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Strachinis et al., 2015|
|Hungary||Widespread||Introduced||2011||Invasive||Sáfián & Horváth, 2011; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2012|
|Italy||Restricted distribution||Introduced||Invasive||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2012; Bella, 2013|
|-Italy (mainland)||Present, few occurrences||Introduced||Invasive||CABI/EPPO, 2012|
|Liechtenstein||Present||Introduced||Invasive||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2012|
|Netherlands||Localised||Introduced||Invasive||; Straten & Muus, 2010; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2012|
|Romania||Localised||Introduced||Invasive||Szekely et al., 2011; EPPO, 2014|
|Russian Federation||Present||Invasive||EPPO, 2014; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2012|
|-Russian Far East||Present, few occurrences||Introduced||Invasive||Kirpichnikova, 2005; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2012|
|-Southern Russia||Restricted distribution||Introduced||Invasive||EPPO, 2014|
|Slovenia||Localised||Introduced||Invasive||Seljak, 2012; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2012|
|Spain||Restricted distribution||Introduced||Invasive||Pérez-Otero et al., 2014|
|Switzerland||Widespread||Introduced||Invasive||Kappeli, 2008; Leuthardt et al., 2010; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2012|
|UK||Localised||Introduced||Invasive||Mitchell, 2009; Korycinska & Eyre, 2009; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2012|
|-England and Wales||Restricted distribution||Introduced||Invasive||EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2012|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
The species was only introduced to Europe in 2007, where it was recorded for the first time in southwest Germany and the Netherlands (Krüger, 2008; Straten and Muus, 2010). It later spread to northwest Switzerland (Leuthardt et al., 2010) and France (Feldtrauer et al., 2009). Most recently, the species has been recorded in several other European countries including England (Straten and Muus, 2010), Austria (Straten and Muus, 2010), Belgium (Casteels et al., 2011), Hungary (Sáfián and Horváth, 2011), Italy (EPPO, 2013), Slovenia (Seljak, 2012), Turkey (Hizal et al., 2012) and finally most of Europe. The exact history of the introduction of C. perspectalis from Asia to Europe remains unknown. However, it is widely accepted that the main introduction pathway is the international trade of Buxus plants. In Germany, C. perspectalis was observed in the vicinity of a shipping centre for commodities imported from China. It might therefore also be possible that the pest travels as a hitchhiker on various commodities. It is also strongly suspected to have reached the Caucasus region through plants imported from Italy for landscaping the Olympic village in Sochi (Gninenko et al., 2014).
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
In the newly invaded regions, C. perspectalis causes severe damage to box trees (Buxus spp.) and presents a major threat. Since its introduction to Germany and the Netherlands it has continued to spread across Europe and has already devastated large areas of trees, such as within forests in Basel, Switzerland. A climate model of the potential distribution of C. perspectalis in Europe suggests that the species will likely continue its spread across Europe, except for Northern Fenno-Scandinavia, Northern Scotland and high mountain regions (Nacambo et al., 2014). The predicted distribution is limited in the north by the insufficient degree-days to complete one generation and/or by cold stress. In the south, it is limited by the diapause requirements (Nacambo et al., 2014). It is predicted, however, that damage will be most severe in regions where the moth can complete at least two annual generations.
C. perspectalis has been shown to feed on all of the most frequently planted box-tree species and varieties in Central Europe (Leuthardt and Baur, 2013), suggesting that its spread across Europe is not limited by food resources. Its spread capacity is also favoured by its ability to develop multiple generations per year, as observed in its native area (Maruyama and Shinkaji, 1993; Zhou et al., 2005).
It is easily introduced accidentally with its host plant, which is extensively traded over Europe (Leuthardt et al., 2010; Straten and Muus, 2010). Furthermore, it experiences only small, if any, competition by other herbivores and mortality by natural enemies.
HabitatTop of page
C. perspectalis has been shown to feed on all of the most frequently planted box-tree species and varieties in central Europe (Leuthardt and Baur, 2013), suggesting that its dispersal is only limited by the distribution of its host plants and abiotic factors such as temperature, day length and humidity (Nacambo et al., 2014). In Europe and the Caucasus, it also attacks wild stands of Buxus sempervirens, which is a locally abundant bush, but also absent from areas with suitable habitat. It occurs from sea level to 2000 m above sea level and has a wide ecological niche. It is often found on limestone and prefers sub-humid conditions along slopes of river valleys, canyons, gorges, ravines and thermal springs. It is present in a wide range of vegetation types such as deciduous and evergreen broadleaved forests, evergreen needled woodlands, garigues, and calcareous grasslands (Di Domenico, 2012). In the Caucasus, in the same types of habitat, it defoliates the local Buxus colchica, often considered as a synonym of B. sempervirens. Little is known on the natural habitats of the moth in Asia.
Habitat ListTop of page
|Cultivated / agricultural land||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Disturbed areas||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Managed forests, plantations and orchards||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Protected agriculture (e.g. glasshouse production)||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Rail / roadsides||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Urban / peri-urban areas||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Natural forests||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Natural forests||Principal habitat||Natural|
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page
The larvae of C. perspectalis feed on many box tree species (Buxus spp.) (Straten and Muus, 2010; Leuthardt and Baur, 2013; Brua, 2014, Wan et al., 2014). Total defoliation also causes the death of the trees. In just a few years, C. perspectalis devastated large areas of native box trees (Buxus sempervirens) in forests in the region of Basel, Switzerland (John and Schumacher, 2013; Kenis et al., 2013) and in the Russian Caucasus (Gninenko et al., 2014).
Although Euonymus japonicus and Ilex purpurea are mentioned as host plants in Japanese literature (Straten and Muus, 2010), there are no reports of these plant genera being affected in Europe. Unpublished trials by the plant protection Service of the Netherlands also ruled out other Buxaceae as host plants (Straten and Muus, 2010). However, it is possible to rear C. perspectalis on an artificial diet, mixed with dried box tree leaves (Kawazu et al., 2010).
Growth StagesTop of page
Flowering stage, Fruiting stage, Seedling stage, Vegetative growing stage
SymptomsTop of page
The larvae of C. perspectalis feed on the leaves of box trees but can attack the bark of the trees, causing them to dry out and die (Leuthardt and Baur, 2013). Typical symptoms include feeding damage on the leaf edges, with sometimes only leaf skeletons remaining. Attendant symptoms are webbing of the branches with frass and residues of moulting such as, black head capsules of different sizes. Heavy damage or repeated attacks lead to total defoliation of the trees, the subsequent attack of the bark causing the death of the tree.
Symptoms ListTop of page
|plant dead; dieback|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
C. perspectalis develops 5 to 7 larval stages, depending on the temperature and larval food source (Maruyama and Shinkaji, 1991). The growth rate of larvae increases linearly between 15°C and 30°C, with threshold temperatures for the development of eggs, larvae and pupae of European populations at 10.9°C, 8.4°C and 11.5°C, respectively (Nacambo et al., 2014). In Japan, minimal values of 11.5°C, 10.1°C and 12.0°C for the development of eggs, larvae and pupae, respectively, suggesting that the European population may have originated from a colder region (Maruyama and Shinkaji, 1987; Nacambo et al., 2014).
In central Europe, C. perspectalis develops two yearly generations with an average of 518 degree-days from the overwintering stage to the adult stage and 430 degree-days for the entire larval and pupal development of the second generation. At least three generations are observed in southern Europe and the Caucasus.
Physiology and Phenology
A number of differences have been observed between the invasive population of C. perspectalis and the native populations in Asia. Temperature thresholds as well as degree-days required for the development of eggs, larvae and pupae were consistent among European studies but differed from studies carried out in Japan (Maruyama and Shinkaji, 1987; 1991; 1993). Such differences may occur because different geographic biotypes show different developmental responses (Maruyama and Shinkaji, 1993). Furthermore, it cannot be ruled out that cryptic species occur, for example in Japan and continental Asia.
Larval development takes 17 to 87 days, depending on the temperature (Maruyama and Shinkaji, 1991). Laboratory rearing of individuals of the European population showed that adults can live up to two weeks.
C. perspectalis overwinters as larvae, protected in a cocoon spun between Buxus leaves (Nacambo et al., 2014). In central Europe, caterpillars mainly diapause and overwinter as third instar larvae (Nacambo et al., 2014). In China, the majority of larvae overwinter as second, third or fourth instar larvae (Tang, 1993; She and Feng, 2006). However, overwintering in mature instars is not uncommon, particularly in southern provinces in China (Huang and Li, 2001; Xiao et al., 2011), suggesting that the larvae still develop after having experienced a decrease in day length (Xiao et al. 2011). In Japan, larvae enter diapause in the fourth or fifth instar larvae (Maruyama and Shinkaji, 1991). In central Europe, the life-cycle of C. perspectalis includes an obligatory diapause stage of at least 8 weeks (Nacambo et al., 2014). Diapause is induced by a daylength of approximately 13.5 h, but may vary depending on the geographic location of the population and the development temperature (Nacambo et al., 2014). Cold stress during diapause is not of major importance for the survival of larvae since C. perspectalis is known to survive in cold regions, such as eastern Russia and northern China, where a minimum winter temperature of -30°C is not uncommon.
Population Size and Density
Due to a lack of natural enemies in its invaded range, C. perspectalis can reach large population sizes and densities. Population density seems to be only limited by food resources.
Larvae feed on the leaves of box trees. Experiments with the European population have shown no preference between the most frequently planted varieties of Buxus sempervirens and B. microphylla (Leuthardt and Baur, 2013). It is also known to feed on B. sinica and on many other Buxus spp. in its native range in China and Japan (Wan et al., 2014).
C. perspectalis has been shown to feed on all of the most frequently planted box tree species and varieties in central Europe (Leuthardt and Baur, 2013), suggesting that its dispersal is only limited by the distribution of its host plants and abiotic factors such as temperature, day length and humidity (Nacambo et al., 2014).
ClimateTop of page
|BS - Steppe climate||Tolerated||> 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation|
|Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year||Tolerated||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year|
|Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer||Preferred||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers|
|Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter||Preferred||Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)|
|Dw - Continental climate with dry winter||Tolerated||Continental climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry winters)|
Air TemperatureTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit|
|Absolute minimum temperature (ºC)||-31|
|Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC)||21||33|
|Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC)||-15||10|
Natural EnemiesTop of page
|Natural enemy||Type||Life stages||Specificity||References||Biological control in||Biological control on|
|Aeolothrips||Predator||Eggs||Wan et al., 2014|
|Apechthis compunctor||Parasite||Pupae||not specific||Wan et al., 2014|
|Brachymeria lasus||Parasite||Pupae||not specific||Wan et al., 2014|
|Casinaria||Parasite||Larvae||not specific||Wan et al., 2014|
|Chelonus tabonus||Parasite||Eggs/Larvae||Wan et al., 2014|
|Compsilura concinnata||Parasite||Larvae||not specific||Wan et al., 2014|
|Dolichogenidea stantoni||Parasite||Larvae||not specific||Wan et al., 2014|
|Exorista||Parasite||Larvae||Wan et al., 2014|
|Phoenicurus phoenicurus||Predator||Adults||not specific|
|Pseudoperichaeta nigrolineata||Parasite||Larvae||not specific||Wan et al., 2014|
|Tyndarichus||Parasite||Eggs||Wan et al., 2014|
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
Some parasitoids are known from its native range (see List of Natural Enemies) but their biology and ecology have not been studied in detail (Wan et al., 2014). The braconid egg-larvae parasitoid Chelonus tabonus is the most abundant and frequently encountered parasitoid of C. perspectalis in China, causing parasitism levels of up to 50%. In its invaded range, C. perspectalis experiences little, if any, competition with other herbivores or mortality by natural enemies. Occasionally, wasps, Vespula spp., and birds, Parus spp., have been observed to prey on the larvae and the bird Phoenicurus phoenicurus may feed on the adults. It is however not established if birds use C. perspectalis as a food source as larvae picked up by birds are often killed and left aside or regurgitated (Leuthardt and Baur, 2013). It is therefore, not very likely that birds can control the invasive population in Europe.
Attacks of larvae by indigenous parasitoids have been observed only in very rare occasions. The larvae tachinid parasitoid, Pseudoperichaeta nigrolineata, also recorded on the moth in Japan, and the pupal inchneumonid parasitoid Apechthis compunctator have occasionally been reared from C. perspectalis (Wan et al., 2014). In laboratory trials, the parasitoid Bracon brevicornis was successful in paralyzing C. perspectalis larvae, although the parasitoid was not able to complete its development (Zimmermann and Wührer, 2010). Various Trichogramma species can attack eggs of the moth in the laboratory (Wan et al., 2014).
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
Natural Dispersal (Non-Biotic)
Observation of the dispersal of one of the first European populations of C. perspectalis in northwest Switzerland allowed an estimate of the natural dispersal velocity of adults to be made at 7-10 km per year (Leuthardt et al., 2010).
Although the precise pathway of introduction of the invasive population of C. perspectalis is not known, it is likely that it reached Europe on horticultural box tree plants imported from China, since nearly all non-European imports of Buxus spp. to Europe come from there (EPPO, 2012). However, there is little information available on the region of production of Buxus spp. in China. Furthermore, plants may also become infested after having left the nursery, during transportation or storage.
Plant TradeTop of page
|Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transport||Pest stages||Borne internally||Borne externally||Visibility of pest or symptoms|
|Leaves||eggs; larvae; pupae||No||Yes||Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye|
|Stems (above ground), Shoots, Trunks, Branches||eggs; larvae; pupae||No||Yes||Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye|
Impact SummaryTop of page
Economic ImpactTop of page
Box trees are used extensively in horticulture, where they are an important structural element. They are known for their longevity and resistance against abiotic stress, diseases and herbivory. In areas infested with C. perspectalis, it has become impossible to maintain healthy box trees without chemical treatment or laborious mechanical removal of the larvae (Kenis et al., 2013). Confronted with the threat of the larvae, many private garden owners prefer to invest in alternative plants (most of which are less expensive) or abstain from using any plants. Historical parks, villas, cemeteries and similar sites face the economic expense of replacing defoliated trees or investing long-term in preventive chemical treatments, which are very costly.
Environmental ImpactTop of page
Impact on Habitats
Box trees grow naturally in the understory of deciduous and evergreen broadleaved forests and prefer sub-humid conditions along slopes of river valleys, canyons, gorges, ravines and thermal springs (Di Domenico et al., 2012). Box trees form very dense stands along sometimes very steep slopes. C. perspectalis has been able to devastate large areas (> 100 ha) of naturally growing box tree forests during one single summer generation in Switzerland (Leuthardt and Ramin, 2011). Similar observations were made more recently in the Russian Caucasus (Gninenko et al., 2014). Until now, it has not been investigated how these ecosystems react to the rapid death of extensive box tree stands. It is, however, conceivable that such an incisive event may considerably influence the soil equilibrium. Furthermore, it is likely that much of the vegetation present in the seed bank may not be able to stabilize the slope fast enough to keep up the protection function of the forests growing on these slopes.
Impact on Biodiversity
Besides cultural and economic effects, the most serious threat from C. perspectalis is likely to be on the natural Buxus populations (Kenis et al., 2013). Populations of B. sempervirens in south-western Europe are rather abundant and continuous (Di Domenico et al., 2012). The first natural stands being reached by C. perspectalis were those around Basel in Switzerland and Germany, where a few isolated but dense stands of B. sempervirens are found. Between 2009 and 2010, some of the populations located near the city of Basel were destroyed by the moth (Leuthardt and Ramin, 2011). A change of the ground covering vegetation due to increased exposure to sunlight has already been observed (John and Schumacher, 2013). New stands were defoliated in late 2013, causing serious concerns for the survival of B. sempervirens in the region. The recent arrival of C. perspectalis in the main distribution areas of B. sempervirens in the French Massif Central and the Pyrenees will undoubtedly have severe consequences, not only on the plant species itself, but also on the functioning of unique forest ecosystems as a whole. Furthermore, the invasive moth may also threaten the survival of B. sempervirens and the rare B. balearica in southern Europe, where they have already experienced a historical decline (Kenis et al., 2013). In the eastern Black Sea region, the moth is currently decimating stands of the highly valued Buxus colchica (often considered as a synonym of B. sempervirens) (Gninenko et al., 2014). B. colchica is already seriously threatened by the invasive fungus Cylindrocladium buxicola [Calonectria pseudonaviculata] and there is fear that a unique forest ecosystem might disappear in the near future.
Social ImpactTop of page
Box trees are of great structural importance in private gardens and public parks, including historical parks and cemeteries (Leuthardt and Baur, 2013). Defoliation of these trees by C. perspectalis may threaten the integrity of these sites. It also has an important cultural value in several regions for its usage in religious ceremonies such as palm Sunday in Europe and the Caucasus. Its hard wood is traditionally used for engraving, cabinet-making, marquetry and the crafting of musical instruments.
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page
- Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
- Host damage
- Modification of successional patterns
- Negatively impacts cultural/traditional practices
- Reduced amenity values
- Reduced native biodiversity
- Threat to/ loss of native species
- Abundant in its native range
- Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
- Has a broad native range
- Highly adaptable to different environments
- Highly mobile locally
- Invasive in its native range
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Tolerant of shade
Likelihood of entry/control
- Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
- Difficult to identify/detect in the field
- Difficult/costly to control
- Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
UsesTop of page
No uses for C. perspectalis (economic, social or environmental) have been recorded.
Detection and InspectionTop of page
Infestation with the box tree moth can be recognized by spotting its larvae feeding on the plant. Early larval stages are hidden between leaves and may be hard to detect. From the third larval stage onwards, the caterpillars are easier to spot, as they feed on the outside of the tree, protected by loose webbing. Infestation may also be detected by the feeding damage; leaf skeletons, webbing and frass in an area of about 20-25 cm around the egg-deposition site (Leuthardt and Baur, 2013). Adults are sensitive to disturbance and may fly during daylight if the plant they are resting on is shaken. They often rest on the box tree itself or surrounding trees or shrubs. Pupae are hard to discover, since they are well-hidden in a silk-cocoon spun between leaves. Eggs are deposited in clusters in a gelatinous mass on the top or bottom side of the leaves. The clusters measure 1-3 mm and are of translucent white-yellowish colour. Close to hatching, the heads of the larvae are visible as small black dots in the egg cluster.
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
There are morphologic similarities of the adults with closely related species of the genera Cydalima and Diaphania. However, C. perspectalis is easily identifiable in its invaded range as most Cydalima species have their main area of distribution in Asia and Australia and Diaphania appears to be a Neotropical taxon (Mally and Nuss, 2010). Therefore, the geographical ranges do not overlap.
Prevention and ControlTop of page
In order to slow down the dispersal of C. perspectalis, public awareness should be raised by communicating the risk of displacing eggs, larvae and pupae when moving infested box trees. The trade of infested box-trees may still be the most important dissemination pathway. Surveys of garden centres have shown that infested box trees are available for sale without the knowledge of the seller, most probably due to the difficult detection of early larval sages or eggs (Leuthardt et al., 2010).
Due to the high mobility of adults and the wide distribution of its host plant, the eradication of C. perspectalis is a difficult task once it has established itself in an area.
C. perspectalis was featured on the alert list of the European Plant Protection Organisation (EPPO) between 2007 and 2011. The pest has been removed from the list because of its wider distribution and rapid expansion that could not be controlled (EPPO, 2013).
In small trees, manual removal of larvae can be an effective control measure if it is repeated every 2-3 days.
The only detected parasitoids feeding on C. perspectalis in Europe are polyphagous species (Wan et al., 2014) and predation by birds is low, probably due to the high levels of toxic alkaloids sequestered by the larva (Leuthardt and Baur, 2013). Therefore, neither would be useful biological control agents. Trichogramma, pathogens and entomopathogenic nematodes are effective in the laboratory, but not yet in the field (Göttig and Herz, 2014; Wan et al., 2014). The introduction of specific parasitoids from the area of origin should be envisaged because it represents the only long-term control option in natural habitat. Unfortunately, little is known on the natural enemies of the moth in Asia.
Chemical control with contact or systemic insecticides are very effective but may harm natural enemies and other species using the box trees for shelters, such as arachnids and other insects. Insecticides working by ingestions are also very effective, although the lag until death of all larvae is usually longer. Biopesticides based on Bacillus thuringiensis are usually the preferred option on ornamental box trees because of their limited impact on the environment.
Monitoring and Surveillance
Monitoring of C. perspectalis populations and their life-cycle can be achieved by using UV-light traps or pheromone traps which are now commercially available (Göttig and Herz, 2014).
Even severely defoliated box trees are able to recover if they have not been severely debarked and if they do not suffer from renewed attacks. However, severely damaged box trees in an area where C. perspectalis has established itself are less likely to survive. This also applies to naturally occurring box trees in the understories of forests in the invaded range of C. perspectalis.
Gaps in Knowledge/Research NeedsTop of page
Control of C. perspectalis, especially in sensitive habitats such as natural central European box tree forests, could be made significantly easier with highly specific and effective biological control measures. Unfortunately, up to date, the knowledge on the natural enemies of the moth in its area of origin is too scarce and, in Europe, no promising natural enemy has been discovered.
To understand the impact of predation by birds, reptiles or invertebrates (wasps, spiders, etc.), the impact of the alkaloids sequestered by the larvae (Leuthardt and Baur, 2013) on the physiology and the behaviour of these predators should be investigated more intensely.
ReferencesTop of page
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OrganisationsTop of page
France: INRA Savebuxus project, http://www.plante-et-cite.fr/projet/fiche/19/savebuxus_mise_au_point_et_evaluat/n:0
Switzerland: CABI Europe - Switzerland, 1 Rue des Grillons, 2800 Delémont, www.cabi.org
Switzerland: Federal Office for the Environment, FOEN, 3003 Bern, http://www.bafu.admin.ch
Switzerland: Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research, WSL, Zurcherstr, 111,
8903 Birmensdorf, http://www.wsl.ch
ContributorsTop of page
10/10/15 Review by:
Marc Kenis, CABI, Delemont, Switzerland
30/07/2013 Original text by:
Florine Leuthardt, Section of Conservation Biology, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
Li HongMei, CABI, Beijing, China
Top of page
- = Present, no further details
- = Evidence of pathogen
- = Widespread
- = Last reported
- = Localised
- = Presence unconfirmed
- = Confined and subject to quarantine
- = See regional map for distribution within the country
- = Occasional or few reports