October 4, 2023

CINCINNATI — A new insect is making its way into the Buckeye State, causing concern for the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

It’s an insect causing problems for boxwood shrubs here in Ohio.

What You Need To Know

  •   Box Tree Moths have made their way to Southwest Ohio  
  •   These insects pose a threat to boxwood shrubs as they feed off them and damage them  
  •   Ohio is a major exporter of Boxwood shrubs and are concerned about it  
  •   You’re encouraged to submit a report with photos to the Ohio Department of Agriculture if you believe moths have damaged your plants  

“It’s white, has a brown border on it and that can catch your eye if you if you’re out looking for different insects. They’re nocturnal,” said Dan Kenny, the Ohio Department of Agriculture Division of Plant Health Chief. “So you may find them around your lights at night.”

What Kenny is describing is a Box Tree Moth. 

“We’ve been monitoring for box tree months for a couple of years now and have been involved in some follow up where it was thought that Box Tree Moths maybe had moved on to the nursery stock,” said Kenny. 

The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has spotted several of them near the border of Hamilton and Clermont Counties. They’re already causing damage to plants. 

“Those caterpillars do a lot of damage, chewing and deflating boxwood, and they can get up to a population where they can kill the boxwood shrubs,” he said. 

He said it’s a huge concern to the ODA as boxwood shrubs are popular across the state.

“Ohio’s an exporter of boxwood shrubs,” he said. “So we want to make sure that that crop is clean and is safe for movement, pest free movement, to other locations where it’s headed to out-of-state or even within the state?”

There aren’t a lot of preventative measures for nurseries or homeowners. But, you’re encouraged to submit a report with photos to the ODA if you believe moths have damaged your plants. ODA is currently working with the USDA to make sure they can mitigate the issue. 

“There’s a lot of research being done to try to preserve boxwood as a as a product, as a species moving ahead with different breeds of boxwood and also with control measures within a nursery,” Kenny said. 

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