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What is a Spotted Lanternfly?

The Spotted Lanternfly is a highly invasive, sap-sucking pest that is originally from China. Classified as a planthopper, they jump and glide from one food source to the next, often hitchhiking to new territory with the aid of unsuspecting humans.

Due to its lack of natural predators, enormous food source variety and anticipated geographic range, the Spotted Lanternfly is establishing and spreading rapidly in the United States. They feed on plants by sucking out the sap, which alone can seriously weaken the host plant. Their resulting excrete, called honeydew, then coats the plants to attract sooty black mold that ends up inhibiting photosynthesis and further stunting growth. Combined feeding and black mold can cause leaf curling, plant wilting, reduced harvests and even tree dieback.

Why is the Spotted Lanternfly a serious pest?

For homeowners, the insect poses a threat to home gardens and other ornamental and landscape plants. For Virginia farmers, the Spotted Lanternfly threatens their very livelihood.

The Spotted Lanternfly has been documented to attack over 70 species of plants, including almonds, apples, blueberries, cherries, peaches, grapes, hops, hardwood trees such as oak, walnut, poplar, maple, and more. It is proving to be a serious risk to the Virginia agricultural industry, which is posed to experience significant losses and declining harvests should this pest extend its range.

Even now, the Spotted Lanternfly could spread throughout large portions of the United States, according to a U.S. Department of Agricultural Research map predicting possible habitat suitable for this invasive pest.

Now, this invasive pest is threatening your neighboring counties. First detected in our great state of Virginia in 2018, by spring of 2019, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced a quarantine for the city of Winchester, Frederick County and Clarke County.

How can you help?

Early detection is crucial to eradicating this invasive species, and so is following quarantine protocol – click here to learn more regarding the quarantine.

Notify the Virginia Cooperative Extension immediately should you discover Spotted Lanternflies anywhere. You can select and call your local Cooperative Extension office or submit a picture via online form here.

Together we can control and eradicate this pest, protecting our home’s landscape plants and Virginia’s agricultural crops.


Image by Rkillcrazy – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Spotted_Lanternfly_Berks_County_PA_Late_July_2018.jpg

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