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New tree pest poses threat, may be in Indiana

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) - Trees, shrubs and other plants in your garden have enough to contend with. Now there's a new pest in the United States that could become a threat.

It's called the box tree moth (Cydalima perspectalis) and as the name suggests, it feeds mainly on boxwood trees. It can also destroy burning bush and holly.

Box tree moth on a leaf. Courtesy USDA.

In the state's Entomology Weekly Review newsletter, State Entomologist Megan Abraham explained that the box tree moth entered the United States through the nursery industry.

"First reports of an infested nursery in Canada a few weeks ago have led to the discovery that several states have received potentially infected material," she wrote. "There are reports that track at least a few plants from the infected nursery of origin to the state of Indiana."

Abraham was quick to point out that the Department of Natural Resources has not confirmed the existence of the box tree month in Indiana, but said alerting the nursery industry, gardeners and landscapers was warranted.

According to the USDA, infected plans may have been shipped to Ohio as well.

On May 26, the USDA issued a federal order to halt imports of host plants from Canada including boxwood, Euonymus and holly.

The box tree moth is native to east Asia and has become a major problem in other parts of the world. Caterpillars feed on the trees and have been known to eat the bark once the leaves have been consumed, resulting in the death of the tree.

Federal and state officials are asking people with boxwood trees to check for signs of infestation. You can read about those signs by going here.

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Brien McElhatten

Brien McElhatten anchors the evening weekday newscasts at ABC21. He also hosts and produces the ABC21 Daily podcast.

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