Mis­chievous moth

French Property News - - Interiors -

Back in July, our neigh­bour­ing viti­cul­tur­ists here in Provence were spray­ing for what they re­ferred to as the ‘ Pyrale de buis’ which is ap­par­ently a great prob­lem for them. What is it and should we be wor­ried about these moths af­fect­ing our gar­den plants? As an aside, some­one told us the spray they use can be harm­ful if it drifts. Peter Oak­ley

Ah! There may pos­si­bly be some con­fu­sion here. William Ken­drick, writ­ing in 1841, talked of the fact that: “In France, the vines are some­times in­fected by a moth or in­sect called Pyrale, which pro­duces a cater­pil­lar so in­ju­ri­ous to the vines that they of­ten de­stroy the en­tire crop through­out all dis­tricts.” He then went on to say: “[the] most ef­fec­tual method… [is] to place amongst the vines, in the night time, lamps en­closed in glass, and sus­pended over saucers of oil… by re­peat­edly strik­ing against the glass, in their vain at­tempts to get at the light, the moths fall down and are drowned in the oil.”

It’s con­fus­ing be­cause, to many, the ‘ pyrale de buis’ is other­wise known as the ‘box tree moth’, the cater­pil­lars of which, as the name sug­gests, af­fect (and can dec­i­mate) box hedges in a very short space of time. To add to the con­fu­sion, the prob­lem ap­pears to be a re­cent one and wouldn’t, there­fore, have been known to Ken­drick back in the mid-1800s. Wikipedia tells us that: “Cy­dal­ima per­spec­talis or the box tree moth is… an in­tro­duced species in Eu­rope, first recorded in Ger­many in 2006, and sub­se­quently [in] France… in 2009.”

Ac­cord­ing to var­i­ous on­line French-based fo­rums, the box tree moth (it’s the cater­pil­lar that causes the prob­lem) has been es­tab­lished in the Tarn de­part­ment for about four years, but in Provence, where you are, it’s been in ev­i­dence since around 2010.

Re­gard­ing the spray your lo­cal wine­mak­ers are us­ing, I couldn’t pos­si­bly com­ment. More or­gan­i­cally, in a gar­den sit­u­a­tion, pheromone traps hung to catch the males may help and, in­ter­est­ingly, there may be another un­ex­pected bi­o­log­i­cal so­lu­tion. Re­fer­ring back to Wikipedia, it seems the Asian hor­net could prove a nat­u­ral preda­tor of the cater­pil­lars of the moth. Ap­par­ently, in south-west France where the Asian hor­net was al­ready present be­fore cy­dal­ima per­spec­talis ar­rived, “some de­gree of pre­da­tion” has been ob­served, though this is not con­firmed by clear, sci­en­tific re­sults.

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