The invasive box tree moth five years after introduction in Slovakia: damage risk to box trees in urban habitats.
The box tree moth Cydalima perspectalis (Walker, 1859) (Lepidoptera: Crambidae) is an invasive species in Europe and a serious pest of box trees (Buxus spp.). In Slovakia, Central Europe, it was first reported in 2012 within the low elevation region with a warm climate. We hypothesize that the cold mountain region of Slovakia would provide less suitable conditions for the spread of this species, indicated by no or only slight damage to box trees. Five years after C. perspectalis was first recorded in Slovakia, we assessed the probability of occurrence of the moth and the probability of damage to box trees (Buxus sempervirens) by its larvae, using temperature and altitude data as predictors. In June and July 2017, at 156 locations (towns and villages) between the altitudes of 109 and 888 m, we recorded damage and categorized the intensity of damage to box trees by C. perspectalis using a four-point scale. Box trees infested by C. perspectalis were recorded in most locations at altitudes between 110 and 400 m with the mean annual temperature varying between 10.5 and 7.9°C. High damage to box trees was found in locations up to 340 m a.s.l. characterized by mean annual temperatures above 8.5°C. Our results suggested high probability (>60%) of any damage to box trees for the area up to approximately 300 m a.s.l. (mean annual temperature above 8.4°C), and high probability (>60%) of high damage for the area up to approximately 250 m a.s.l. (mean annual temperature above 9°C). The area where damage to box trees was predicted using the altitude showed great overlap with the area predicted using the mean annual temperature. The area with the probability of any damage was only slightly larger than the area with the probability of high damage.