Box Tree moth update

There are signs that Box Tree moths are about to produce another generation of box plant damaging caterpillars before the winter, so now in the early autumn is a good time to re-new pheromone lures in Box Tree moth traps. This will help reduce the number of male moths and prevent them from mating with the females, which in turn will reduce the number of eggs produced. However, the Box Tree Moth trap is not a solution on its own. It is part of a series of measures needed to protect plants from Box Tree moth attack. During 2019 Dragonfli has been testing various natural enemies and products to help Box Tree plants withstand attacks from the Box Tree caterpillars. These include applying nematodes directly onto the caterpillars once they appear on the Box plants, this can be difficult if the caterpillars are deep within the foliage of the Box, so extra effort is needed with the application to ensure this. The nematodes need to come into direct contact with the Box tree caterpillars. Moisture levels are also important, so applying in warm, damp weather is ideal, avoiding bright , sunny days. Another Biological weapon that is being tested are tiny microscopic wasps called Trichogramma. These tiny wasps are moth egg parasites, so it is hoped that the combination of these wasps taking out the egg stage of the Box Tree moth life cycle and the nematodes killing the caterpillar stage, may provide a basis for a natural, biological control programme against this new non-native insect pest. There are also products that can help Box Plants and Box Hedging recover from Box Tree moth attack by stimulating growth in the plants by means of creating a healthy root zone and providing natural stimulants. One of these products is called Soil Boost, which contains plant based ingredients that act like  a natural slow release fertilizer. This helps the plants put on new growth, strengthening the plants, making them more resilient to pest and disease attack including Box blight. More tests are planned in 2020 to combat this devastating pest of Box plants.

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