New box tree moth compliance agreement for quarantine counties

A new compliance agreement will allow the shipment of Buxus outside of counties under Michigan’s box tree moth interior quarantine.

A box tree moth larvae.
Photo 1. Box tree moth on boxwood plant. Photo by Heidi Lindberg, MSU Extension.

During May 2024, a taskforce comprised of members of the National Plant Board and the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) developed a new compliance agreement that will allow the shipment of Buxus outside of the quarantined counties of Michigan’s box tree moth interior quarantine (Photo 2). A Federal Order was issued on May 22, 2024, allowing the use of this compliance agreement and removing the requirement to tag all Buxus with a regulated article label. The new compliance agreement includes a pest management plan, trapping, insecticide treatments, inspection and certification, and prenotification for shipping out of state.

The Federal Order on May 22 also establishes quarantine areas for box tree moth with the same guidelines for interstate movement of boxwoods for all of Massachusetts, parts of New York, and Ohio in order to control the spread of box tree moth (Cydalima perspectalis, Photo 1).

BTM Quarantine-May2024.jpg
Photo 2. The quarantine zone for box tree moth in Michigan. A new federal order allows nurseries within these counties to enter an extended compliance agreement with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) to ship boxwood out of this area. Photo by MDARD.

What does it mean?

Prior to the Federal Order on May 22, no one was able to move regulated articles (Buxus plant material – live or dead – and box tree moths) outside of the quarantine zone, which consists of 12 southeastern and central Michigan counties (Photo 2). Now, nurseries producing boxwoods who are in the quarantine zone may enter an expanded compliance agreement with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) in order to sell plants out of the quarantine zone.

What does the expanded compliance agreement entail?

There’s a sample of a compliance agreement for nurseries that produce boxwood within the quarantine zone on the National Plant Board website. This has been adopted by individual states and is available from by emailing or contacting your district MDARD nursery inspector. Nurseries need to do the following to be in compliance with the agreement:

  • Trapping: Nurseries must install traps according to the specifications (number of traps per acre of production, change pheromone lure every four weeks, etc.) within the agreement.
  • Training: Designated personnel at the nurseries must complete state-required training on box tree moth and must understand all of the facets of the compliance agreement.
  • Scouting: Trained, designated personnel at nurseries must scout according to the specifications with the agreement for all signs and symptoms of the boxwood and report any positive finds of box tree moth to MDARD within two business days.
  • Insecticide treatments: Nurseries must apply approved insecticide treatments to plants in the production area based on scouting and trap monitoring to target susceptible early instars within each generation and again within seven days prior to shipping.
  • Pre-shipment inspection: Designated and trained personnel at nurseries must inspect outgoing plants within 24 hours of shipment.
  • Certification: MDARD inspectors will issue a certificate to the grower, which must accompany the plants to their destination.
  • Notification of destination state: Nurseries need to alert the destination state’s Department of Agriculture within an agreed upon timeframe and notification protocol of the incoming shipment of boxwoods that originate in the quarantined areas and are under a compliance agreement.
  • Recordkeeping: Nurseries must keep records outlined in the compliance agreement for at least 36 months.

What’s happening now in Michigan?

The quarantine has been established for the 12 counties in southeastern and central Michigan. The USDA is trapping in areas surrounding the perimeter of the quarantine to look for box tree moth surrounding those 12 counties. MDARD has hired seasonal staff to set and monitor traps in other parts of the state further beyond the border of the quarantine zone during the active season of box tree moth in 2024.

If you see signs of box tree moth or its caterpillars on your boxwood plants, please take photos and submit a report through Michigan's Eyes in the Field online reporting system. As of May 2024, the majority of reports of box tree moth sitings were in Oakland County.

Where can I find more information?

The USDA Box Tree Moth website is very helpful and provides information such as symptoms, prevention, treatment, a catalogue of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s response to the invasive species, and information for cooperators including insecticide options for box tree moth.

MDARD hosted a webinar on May 30, 2024. In this webinar, participants will learn about Michigan’s new compliance agreement approved by both the USDA and National Plant Board to allow for the shipment of Buxus outside of quarantined areas.

For more information, check out:


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