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The Invasive Spotted Lanternfly in Virginia

While some bugs are essential for the environment and must be protected like bees, some bugs are an invasive pest that should be killed whenever it is encountered. A great example is the Spotted Lanternfly, an invasive species of insect that has taken hold in the Eastern United States. Spotted Lanternflies are native to China, and were first brought to the US in 2014, in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Spotted Lanternflies are known to be incredibly dangerous to crops and plants. They will feed on fruits and nuts like grapes, apples, walnuts and plums, as well as on hardwood trees like maple trees, oak trees, pine trees, willow trees and more. The State of Virginia has set up a quarantine in the Northwestern part of the state to prevent the spread of the Spotted Lanternfly. Citizens are encouraged to destroy every Spotted Lanternfly they see, as well as any masses of eggs. Citizens are also encouraged to report any sightings of Spotted Lanternflies outside of designated quarantine areas. If you have Spotted Lanternflies, a licensed pest control company like Summit Pest Control can help eliminate the population and save your plants.

What is the Spotted Lanternfly?

The spotted Lanternfly is a newer invasive species that was first spotted in the United States in September 2014, in Berks County, Pennsylvania. It has established a population in Northern Virginia, Northern Delaware, Southeastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey. These insects are typically about an inch long, with their outer layer of wings colored a pinkish-gray with black spots. When they are in flight, you can see their underwings, which are a bright red color. Spotted Lanternfly nymphs, or insects that haven’t reached full maturity, are colored black with white spots for their first three stages, until they reach their fourth stage, when they become bright red with black and white spots. Spotted Lanternfly eggs are brown and seed-like, and are covered in a gray, muddy-looking secretion to form an egg mass. Spotted lanternflies will lay their egg masses on any hard surface they find outdoors, whether it be organic or artificial. Spotted Lanternflies are hitchhikers, which means they will attach themselves and their egg masses to wood products, stone, or any other flat surface (including cars), which will facilitate their transportation and spread across the country. The Spotted Lanternfly is indigenous to China and Southeast Asia, and experts believe it landed in 2012 on a shipment of stone, before being officially discovered in 2014. Spotted Lanternflies are classified as an invasive species, due to the massive amounts of damage they can do to crops and plants.

Spotted Lanternfly Damage

Spotted Lanternflies are classified as an invasive pest species, as they are not indigenous to the United States, and they pose an active danger to crops, trees and other plants. Spotted Lanternflies feed on the invasive tree-of-heaven, but they are also known to feed on oak trees, apple trees, maple trees, willow trees, and pear trees. Spotted Lanternflies are also known to feed heavily on grapevines, walnuts, almonds, apricots, cherries, hops, peaches, plums, pine trees and sycamore trees. Spotted Lanternflies will feed on tree sap with their piercing mouthparts, and they will secrete honeydew which builds up in large quantities beneath the feeding insect. This honeydew will not only attract plants like bees, wasps and ants, but it will also become a breeding ground for sooty mold. Sooty mold will grow on surfaces near spotted Lanternfly feeding, including tree trunks, decks, patios and vehicles, which can lead to stains that are very hard to remove. While Spotted Lanternflies don’t kill every plant they feed on, they can add additional stress to a plant which can lead to a plant’s decline and eventual death. They are a threat to the ecosystem and economy of various states, as they will upset the supply of valuable fruit crops. Due to the extensive damage these insects cause, people are encouraged to destroy Spotted Lanternflies wherever they are seen, and quarantine methods have been put in place across the state of Virginia to prevent Spotted Lanternflies from spreading further.

Spotted Lanternfly Quarantine in Virginia

Due to how dangerous they are to crops and plants, quarantines have been set up throughout the state of Virginia to keep Spotted Lanternflies from spreading further. Spotted Lanternflies are mostly present in Northern Virginia, and the official quarantines are set up in the following counties: 

  • Albemarle County 
  • Augusta County 
  • Carroll County 
  • Clarke County 
  • Frederick County 
  • Page County 
  • Prince William County 
  • Rockingham County 
  • Rockbridge County 
  • Shenandoah County 
  • Warren County 
  • Wythe County 
  • City of Buena Vista 
  • City of Charlottesville 
  • City of Harrisonburg 
  • City of Lexington 
  • City of Lynchburg 
  • City of Manassas 
  • City of Manassas Park 
  • City of Staunton 
  • City of Waynesboro 

Travelers passing through the quarantined areas are encouraged to check their bags and vehicles for nymph and adult Spotted Lanternflies, as well as any Spotted Lanternfly egg masses. Businesses in the quarantined area are required to obtain a permit from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and inspect all regulated articles that are leaving the quarantined area to ensure they do not contain the Spotted Lanternfly in any life stage. This can include plant matter like live or dead trees, nursery stock, green lumber, firewood, logs, perennial plants, garden plants, produce, stumps, branches and mulch. Outdoor household articles must also be inspected, like recreational vehicles, lawn tractors, mowers, grills, grill or furniture covers, traps, mobile homes, tiles, stone or deck boards. Outdoor industrial or construction materials or equipment should also be inspected. Some examples include concrete barriers or structures, quarry material, ornamental stone and concrete, construction, landscaping or remodeling waste. Wood crates and boxes must also be inspected.

Spotted Lanternfly Control Methods

There are several ways to control the population of Spotted Lanternflies on your property. The first, and easiest way, is to squash or stomp any specimen you see. Scraping egg masses off of trees and other surfaces into a plastic bag filled with hand sanitizer and disposing of it properly can destroy the egg mass, preventing a new population from hatching. Identifying and destroying egg masses is one of the most effective methods of Spotted Lanternfly control. Licensed pest control professionals can also aid in removing Spotted Lanternfly populations from your home or business. Summit Pest Control offers the best professional, licensed pest control in the Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax and Fredericksburg areas. Contact us today for a FREE estimate! 

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