Behind this “pretty little butterfly” hides a devastating insect that arrived in Belgium barely 10 years ago.
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“This pretty little butterfly came and landed on me. Who could tell me what it is?” John asked us via the orange Alert Us button, accompanying his question with a photo posted above. Not having an entomologist (insect specialist) in the drafting, we relayed the request to Patrick Lighezzolo of Natagora, the association for the protection of nature.
Its target: boxwood
Under this beautiful graceful appearance hides an animal that has made a lot of talk in recent years for its devastating action: the boxwood moth, more precisely when this moth is in the first phase of its existence, at the state of caterpillar. The voracious insect then methodically devours the small leaves of the boxwood, a shrub appreciated by many Belgians for the ornament of their garden.
Coming from the Far East
The arrival of this butterfly in our country is recent. “The boxwood moth is an exotic invasive moth here. It was accidentally introduced into Europe in the 2000s via plants imported from the Far East”, begins Patrick Lighezzolo. Its spread did not drag: “To my knowledge, the first observations in Flanders date from 2010. Colonization of the country then begins with the first observation in Wallonia in summer 2015. We can see that a little more than 400 municipalities of the 581 of the kingdom are triggered by this species. The spared areas are mainly concentrated in Haute Ardenne “, exposes the butterfly specialist.
And the invasion is not slowing down. On the contrary, “the record of sightings dating from last year is already broken”, announces the scientist. The boxwood moth has prompted many individuals and gardeners to abandon the idea of planting boxwood in gardens. But she inspired others to fight the animal using chemicals harmful to birds and other insects, “very damaging gestures”, deplores Patrick Lighezzolo.