Destruction of a protected habitat by an invasive alien species: the case of Cydalima perspectalis (Walker, 1859) in the box tree formations of Liguria (North-West Italy) (Lepidoptera: Crambidae).
The box tree moth, Cydalima perspectalis (Walker, 1859), an invasive alien species of Asian origin associated with box trees, gained immediate attention in Europe due to the damage caused to ornamental stands and its rapid spread. However, its effects on natural box tree formations remained poorly investigated, especially in Southern Europe. In Liguria (North-West Italy), this species attacked xerotermophilous box tree formations on rocky substrate, a protected habitat (5110) after the EU 92/43 Directive, seriously endangering its long-term survival. Since detection in 2013, this species defoliated almost the whole area covered by habitat 5110, until experiencing a population crash after depleting its only trophic resource. We present here the evolution of the invasion and the population dynamics of this invasive alien species in Liguria during the years 2016-2017.