Spotted Lanternfly Confirmed in Clarke County
BERRYVILLE, VA (Nov. 2, 2019) The non-native, invasive, and destructive Spotted Lanternfly has been found in western Clarke County. Officials from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) confirmed the insect was found this fall on the Clarke side of the Opequon Creek, which borders Frederick County.
The Spotted Lanternfly — lycorma delicatula — is native to China, India, and Vietnam. It was first identified in the U.S. in 2014 at a Berks County, Pa., business that imports stone products. In 2015, VDACS inspectors began monitoring a Frederick County stone yard that bought products from the Pennsylvania business. VDACS inspectors found the Spotted Lanternfly on the Frederick County property in January 2018.
VDACS agricultural pest survey coordinator Tina MacIntyre and Mark Sutphin of the Virginia Cooperative Extension-Frederick County office in Winchester met with Clarke County officials on Nov. 1 to discuss the urgency of educating residents about the Spotted Lanternfly.
Early detection is vital for the study and management of this new pest.
VDACS, Virginia Tech and its Virginia Cooperative Extension, and other state agencies are doing what they can to contain and suppress the Spotted Lanternfly through applications of insecticides and herbicides, but they need residents to look for the incredibly destructive insect, kill it, and report it so its spread can be monitored.
Beginning in September and through November, people will see egg-laying adults and egg masses on tree trunks, stones, concrete, and metal surfaces, including vehicles. Squash the insects and scrape off egg masses into a container that also has hand sanitizer or diluted bleach to kill the eggs. Egg masses can be found throughout the winter months.
The Spotted Lanternfly hatches in the spring. As nymphs, they change appearance twice before adulthood. At first, nymphs are black with white spots. By June and July, they are red and black with white spots. The adult has pink wings with black spots. When a full-grown insect spreads its pink wings, one can see its yellow body and smaller black, red, and white wings.
Adult Spotted Lanternflies can be seen from July through December — or the first killing frost.
Use an insecticide such as Raid or diluted bleach to kill Spotted Lanternfly, MacIntyre said. Use an herbicide on plants, but do not cut down and move trees as that may spread the insect.
MacIntyre said the insect does not bite, but the Spotted Lanternfly swarms, and its excrement, called “honeydew,” makes a sticky mess on all surfaces. Honeydew attracts other insects that eat it, and honeydew is a breeding ground for fungus.
Spotted Lanternflies prefers to feed on Tree of Heaven (ailanthus tree), which is another non-native, invasive species from China. But, the Spotted Lanternfly will happily feed on almost 70 types of plants and trees, including grapes, hops, fruit trees, shade trees, and vegetables.
The damage they do is by piercing and sucking sap through bark and stems. They do not eat the fruit of a plant but, in high numbers, they weaken or kill plants and trees.
MacIntyre said the Spotted Lanternfly has already adversely affected crops, making life more difficult for orchardists, vineyard owners, and other farmers.
The Spotted Lanternfly is not a moth or a fly. Even though adults have wings, they are hoppers. Spotted Lanternfly nymphs crawl to host trees, where they develop into adults that crawl, hop, or flutter short distances. An adult may crawl to the top of the tree and jump, but that is the closest it comes to flying.
Because they do not fly, the Spotted Lanternfly is a hitchhiker, traveling on anything it can, including cars, trucks, and trains.
The Spotted Lanternfly is documented in parts of Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York as well as Frederick County – and now Clarke County – Virginia. “It is unfortunate that we now have the Spotted Lanternfly in our area,” said Sutphin, who is the Virginia Cooperative Extension unit coordinator for agriculture and natural resources, horticulture. “Honestly, everyone should be concerned.”
Property owners who believe they have found Spotted Lanternfly egg masses, nymphs, or adults, can contact Mark Sutphin of the Virginia Cooperative Extension-Frederick County office at 540-665-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The office is located at 107 N. Kent St. in Winchester.
The Virginia Cooperative Extension has a website dedicated to Spotted Lanternfly: ext.vt.edu/agriculture/commercial-horticulture/spotted-lanternfly.html