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Box Tree Caterpillars – There moth be something you can do! - Dragonfli

Moth Populations Have Boomed Over A Warm & Wet Summer

The summer was one of a typically British variety, with the weather warm but often wet and cloudy. These conditions may not have been too enjoyable for us but they been enjoyed by certain pests such as some moth species. The wet and warm conditions have been ideal for the population growth of these pests. We have recently seen an influx of the Diamondback Moths, for example. These moths produce caterpillars that can cause serious damage to Brassica crops and plants.


Diamondback Moths have benefitted from the summer conditions, producing caterpillars which have been devastating Brassica crop.

Another moth which has seen its population flourish this summer, is the new invasive moth species: the Box Tree Moth. This moth has arrived in the south east of the U.K., after originating from South Asia.


The Box Tree Moth has arrived from South Asia and also produces a caterpillar which has been frustrating gardeners. The Box Tree Caterpillar is capable of completely destroying Box plants.

Typical Box Tree Caterpillar Damage

Box Tree Caterpillars can have a devastating impact on Box plants and hedges. The caterpillars shred the plant leaves and Box hedges are left looking as if they are suffering from serious die-back, although these symptoms must not be confused with Box blight, which is a fungal disease that Box plants can experience. Box Tree Caterpillars eventually spin white webs around themselves as they pupate. This can make it challenging to treat them.

If you think you are suffering from a Box Tree Caterpillar infestation, you can take part in a survey on the RHS website to help them track their spread across the U.K.


Box Tree Caterpillar damage to a Box Hedge.


If you look closely at the image you can spot the caterpillars among the leaves they've shredded.

Dragonfli's Natural Control Solutions For Box Tree Caterpillars

Box Tree Caterpillar Moth Pheromone Traps

To successfully monitor and control this pest, you should consider purchasing our Box Tree Caterpillar Moth Traps. The trap utilises a species specific pheromone lure to attract the male Box Tree Moths to drop into the funnel trap, where they are caught and drowned, or caught on the circular sticky pad insert, depending on your preferred control method. This helps to prevent male moths mating, which in turn reduces female egg laying and reduces the development of the damaging caterpillars.


A perfectly placed Box Tree Trap and the previous successful haul of caught Box Tree Moths.

Box Tree Caterpillar Killer Nematodes

If caterpillars do appear on the box plants, it is still possible to treat them with our Box Tree Caterpillar Killer Nematodes. These nematodes should be watered directly onto the Box Tree Caterpillars where they will then proceed to enter the caterpillars, via a natural opening such as the mouth, and consume them from inside! The nematodes will reproduce inside the caterpillars and emerge from the then dead pest to seek out further caterpillars to infect.

Box Tree Caterpillar Killer Nematodes are most easily applied with the use of our specific nematode applicator sprayers. The sprayers will allow for easy coverage over multiple, or large, Box plants. Find our dedicated Nema Super Sprayer here.


Easily apply our fantastic Box Tree Caterpillar Killer Nematodes to your Box plants with our Nema Super Sprayer and enjoy control over this horrible new pest.

Comments (5 Responses)

23 May, 2023

Julian Ives

Hi Robert,

Thanks for getting in touch.

That is very unfortunate but at least you have now been able to identify the caterpillars and can act before all of the box plants are destroyed.

Our nematodes are the best option to apply immediately in your circumstance, simply spray them directly onto any visible caterpillars.

It may also be worth applying our complete package of Box Tree Caterpillar controls to ensure your infestation does not become any larger. See our ‘Box Tree Moth Life Cycle Control Bundle’ which includes our Box Tree Moth Pheromone Trap to catch the adult male moths, reduce mating and minimise the egg laying capacity of the female moths.

The bundle also includes our new Box Tree Moth Egg Killer Sachets of trichogramma parasitic wasps that will kill the Box Tree Moth eggs that were lain, and prevent them from developing into any more caterpillars.

You can find this bundle here:

You may also be interested in our more recent blog on how to apply these products successfully and to tackle all of the life cycle stages of the Box Tree Moth which you can read here:

I hope this all helps and best of luck in your battle!

Kind regards, Julian Ives [Director, Dragonfli]

20 May, 2023

Robert Rance

I have severe infestation of the caterpillars on all five of my large box plants. Only discovered it yesterday and in one case they have already damaged about 75% , so I guess it was infected first.
Have ordered your recommended nematode treatment and hope it’s not too late!

13 July, 2022

Julian Ives

Hi Mark and Jeanette, thank you both for your comments.

I’m sorry to hear that you are both suffering from Box Tree Caterpillar infestations. As further evidenced by both of your contrasting locations, there has been a significant national infestation of Box Tree Moths in the U.K. this season!

I hope this blog advised you on how to best combat the caterpillar and the moth stage of the life cycle.

Use our highly effective Box Tree Caterpillar Killer Nematodes for the caterpillar control, which you can find here:

Combine this with use of our Box Tree Caterpillar Killer Moth Pheromone Trap for control of the adult moths, which you can find here:

If you both need any further advice feel free to get in touch via email at, via social media, or by giving us a call on 01376 563322, and we’d be happy to assist.

Kind regards, Julian Ives [Director, Dragonfli]

28 May, 2022

Jeanette Rossiter

Have two box ball trees completely destroyed by them. I’m in Gloucester

05 May, 2022

Mark Collins

We have them here in Bournemouth

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