hunting the box tree moth

I’m in hunting/stealth mode  following the article I posted about our very hungry caterpillars.  Here is the catch (just half an hour of patient searching): caterpillars and some in their pupa stage.

hungry caterpillars

I’ve been reading up some more, and here is a translation of what I found on the French wiki site (for some reason these details are lacking in the English version) on the life-cycle.  Never know, one of my readers may have the same problem, so I thought I’d share.

Adults are nocturnal (moth). In Western Europe this species produces two to three generations each year.

– The young larva survive the winter months in silk cocoons which they weave by pulling two leaves together to form a sort of pouch, on the infested bush.
– The first generation of moths takes flight in June.
– Eggs are laid in groups on the under-side of leaves.
– Eggs become caterpillars.
– Caterpillars,, when fully grown, measure 35 – 40mm in length.  They then transform into pupa. 
– The pupa phase lasts approximately one month (hanging by the tail in a cocoon spun between two leaves)
– Then it becomes a moth.
– The last generation of the year (as caterpillars) then makes cocoons between 2 leaves to pass the winter.
They leave their cocoons from March and start feeling on the leaves.

This explains why I’m finding 2 stages of development (caterpillars and the beginnings of pupa.  I can’t go hunting for eggs because my eye-sight isn’t good enough but I sure can destroy as many of these things as I can find and stop the next generation from being able to transform.  I hope that by acting now (and in the coming weeks) I will be able to limit the number of moths (therefore future eggs).  If necessary, we will prune the second bush right down to a stump (and burn) before next Spring.  

What I found interesting is . . . this insect lives exclusively on the boxwood bush/tree.  “Hunting” for them is rather like cross stitch lol.  You know, when you’re checking over your stitching, to make sure you haven’t made a mistake?  My eye is becoming fully-trained to spot the slightest sign of silk, any leaf that is turned the wrong way, any 2 leaves that look stuck together  Rire because there’s always a caterpillar hiding.

There might not be any natural predators in France for this ravenous caterpillar that has come from Eastern Asia . . . but they’re going to have to deal with me!  One of my French readers has suggested I use “black soap” in a diluted spray or a rhubarb leaf cocktail . . . So will add that to my arsenal too. 



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