Invasive Species Compendium

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Abstract

Spatial distribution, genetic diversity and food choice of box tree moth (Cydalima perspectalis) in Croatia.

Abstract

Background and Purpose: Box tree moth (Cydalima perspectalis: Lepidoptera, Crambidae) is an invasive species rapidly spreading through Europe and making considerable damage to native and planted European box plants (Buxus sp.). It has up to three generations per year and has no natural enemies in Europe which helps it to spread rapidly and to become highly invasive in its new range. The aim of this paper is to show (i) spatial distribution, (ii) number of generations; (iii) food choice, and (iv) genetic distribution of box tree moth in Croatia. Materials and Methods: Occurrence data of box tree moth were obtained by field observation and data obtained from the general public. The number of generations of box tree moth was studied by direct observation of life stages on plants. Food choice test was conducted on Buxus sempervirens, Ilex aquifolium, Euonymus japonicus and Ligustrum vulgare used as food plants. Haplotype diversity and distribution of box tree moth was done for 5 localities in Croatia and their comparison to the haplotypes from China, Korea and 10 European countries. Results: Box tree moth has rapidly spread over the whole territory of Croatia in 4 years and it has three generations per year. The larvae showed a clear preference for B. sempervirens leaves and the total consumption was 0.5 g/dry weight of box leaves/larva. Three haplotypes were observed and haplotype HT4 was found in 4 out of 5 sampling sites in Croatia. The haplotypes observed in Croatia were present in China, which indicates Chinese origin of Croatian populations. Conclusions: Suitable European climate, widely available host plants and lack of natural enemies have enabled box tree moth to become highly invasive, to quickly disperse in its new environment and to make devastating damages to ornamental European box plants and hedges.