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Guest or Pest: Boxwood Moth

Jun 07, 2024

Boxwood Moth

What Is a Boxwood Moth?

The boxwood moth (also called the box tree moth) is a non-native, invasive species of moth that has found its way over to some regions of North America in recent years. So far, it has been spotted in Ontario, Canada and in some eastern states of the United States. Adult boxwood moths have white iridescent wings surrounded by brown borders, but it is the larvae – green striped caterpillars with black heads – that pose a threat to residential landscapes and gardens.


Boxwood Moth



While the boxwood moth does not bite, carry disease, or cause any harm to humans or animals, it is certainly categorized as a pest if found in your garden. This is because the larvae feed on the foliage (and even the bark) of boxwood trees and shrubs, causing significant damage and even entirely defoliating them.


If you’re growing boxwoods in your garden – even if you do not live in an area that is known to have a population of boxwood moths – it’s a good idea to keep a lookout for signs of a boxwood moth infestation. It can be pretty hard to spot. Look for the following indications:


  • The presence of lime green caterpillars or white moths with brown borders

  • Sawdust-like insect waste (called “frass”)

  • Silky webbing holding together twigs and leaves (allowing the larvae or pupa to hide)

  • Brown and missing leaves on the boxwood tree or shrub


If caught early, quickly remove infested branches to save the rest of the boxwood. For heavy infestations, cut the boxwood at the base and bag it securely in plastic before throwing it away. With time, your boxwood should re-grow from the roots. 


If you discover signs of a boxwood moth infestation in your boxwood trees, act fast and check for recommendations from your local government organization. Some may request that you report any sightings.


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