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The Plant Health Threat: Box Tree Moth

The Plant Health Threat: Box Tree Moth

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is responding to a significant plant health threat, and we are asking Tennessee residents for help. Thousands of boxwood plants imported from Canada this spring could have been infested with the box tree moth (BTM).

The BTM is an invasive pest that can severely damage—and potentially kill—boxwood plants if left unchecked. The infested Canadian boxwood plants were shipped to seven States: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Many of the potentially infested boxwoods were then moved to other states. The USDA wants to find all infested boxwoods and destroy them.

How Residents Can Help:

The box tree moths can produce several generations between June and October, so quick action is needed to prevent this damaging pest from becoming established here. We need help from anyone in Shelby County who bought a boxwood plant this spring.

We are asking recent boxwood buyers to follow three simple steps:

1. Check any boxwood plants you bought this spring for signs of the box tree moth.
2. If you find any signs of infestation, report it to your local USDA office or state department of agriculture.
3. Please allow agriculture officials to place a box tree moth trap on your property, if needed.

Please report any signs of infestation to your local USDA office or state department of agriculture. You can do this on the USDA’s box tree moth web page at

The link can also be found by typing “USDA box tree moth” (without quotes) in your favorite search engine.

Where To Look:

Look for young caterpillars hiding among the twigs and leaves. The female moths lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves of boxwoods. The caterpillars are green and yellow with white, yellow, and black stripes and black spots. The caterpillars eat the leaves and stems, leading to the plant’s death. Signs of feeding include chewed, cut, or missing leaves, yellowing or brown leaves, white webbing, and green-black excrement on or around the plant.

The USDA wants to protect our country’s boxwoods. For more information about the box tree moth, please give me a call at 901-752-1207. Let’s stop this invasive pest before it becomes a problem in our area!

This is what you should look for:

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