A southern New Jersey greenhouse-nursery most likely is infested with European pepper moth, an invasive pest that's native to fresh- and salt-water marshes in southern Europe.
Both adult and larvae have been found in New Jersey, according to a Rutgers University pest advisory.
Because of the difficulty positively confirming the rather nondescript gray-brown moth, officials are awaiting fresh samples to make their final determination.
Scientists often refer to it by its scientific name, Duponchelia fovealis, to avoid confusion with other species with the same or similar common name.
Female moths lay single eggs or small egg masses similar to European corn borer on the underside of leaves.
After hatching, the larvae move into the soil, feeding on roots and stems of woody and herbaceous plants.
Severe damage, including plant death, may occur from stem girdling.
The larvae typically are found in the soil mix, between containers and under plant trays.
The host range is wide and includes many ornamental plants, potted flowers and vegetable plugs.
European pepper moth is primarily a greenhouse pest but field infestations may also occur.
Because the pest cannot survive cold temperatures, New Jersey officials don't believe it will make it through the winter in that state.
Since 2004, the pest has been found in several states and Canada. Movement of infested plant material is most likely responsible for the dispersal.
The moth can be controlled through chemical and biological control as well las sanitation.