Pine tree lappet moth regulations, information and advice

The pine tree lappet moth (Dendrolimus pini) has a very wide range in Europe and Russia. In some countries it is known to be an extremely serious periodic pest on pine. Its caterpillars eat pine needles and can cause heavy and sometimes strip trees of needles, either weakening trees and leaving them vulnerable to secondary attacks by other pests and diseases or, in severe cases, killing the host trees.

The primary host of this moth is Scots pine but it can feed on other pine species and in outbreak conditions it will also feed on other conifers. Within the UK, this moth is only known to occur in the Beauly, Inverness, catchment area, where a male moth was first detected in 2004 (and a breeding population subsequently confirmed in 2009). Although male moths can fly significant distances (kilometres), female moths are far less mobile due to their egg loads. Longer distance spread can occur through the movement of cocoons and larvae on wood and foliage.  

A containment programme was launched in 2009 to minimise the risk of further spread. Statutory controls on the movement of timber and branchwood from the breeding area have been in place since 2010. An annual programme of population monitoring has shown that the population density remains very low and the moth remains confined to a relatively small area in the Beauly catchment.

This Core Breeding Area map shows the Core Breeding Area of the pine tree lappet moth in Scotland.

Timber movement restrictions  

Conifer timber movement restrictions apply to the pine tree lappet moth Core Breeding Area between 18 May and 31 August (unless an owner can demonstrate through validated surveys that a breeding population of the pine tree lappet moth is not present). There are no restrictions on timber harvesting or extraction to roadside within this period.    

From 1 April 2021, the timber movement restrictions will continue to apply to all pine species but, in recognition of the continuing low densities of pine tree lappet caterpillars since 2008, restrictions on the movement of non-pine conifers will be reduced to only those growing in mixture (intimate or group) within pine coupes. No timber movement restrictions will apply outside the Core Breeding Area, but this will be kept under annual review based on results from wider area surveillance.  

A timber movement permission is needed in order to remove conifer timber from the Core Breeding Area at any time throughout the year.

To enquire about obtaining a timber movement permission for the movement of conifer timber from the Core Breeding Area This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..