Experts work to prevent spread of invasive Spotted Lanternfly


As we head into summer, experts in the Winchester area are concerned that the Spotted Lanternfly will pose a major threat to the region. 

The United States Department of Agriculture is calling this the most invasive bug in 150 years. The Spotted Lanternfly came from Asia to Virginia in 2018 and was first seen in Winchester. 

“Not yet have they been an agricultural pest here in Winchester/Frederick County, they’ve been confined to a pretty small area,” said Virginia Cooperative Extension agent Mark Sutphin.

Before making its way to Virginia, the Spotted Lanternfly was first found in Pennsylvania in 2014. It has also been seen in Delaware and New Jersey.

“Later in the summer we’ll see other larger nymphal stages and then adults probably mid-July,” said Sutphin.

Lanternflies are most attracted to Ailanthus altissima, also known as the Tree of Heaven. Experts say the small nymphs can attach to your body or your vehicle and spread throughout the community. Once they grow into an adult, that’s when they begin to cause severe damage. 

“They can be a pest of grapes, hops, apples, peaches and other fruit trees,” said Sutphin.

The Virginia Cooperative Extension puts them in alcohol so they can be used for educational purposes. They treat large Trees of Heaven with insecticides.

The Virginia Department of Forestry, Virginia Cooperative Extension, city of Winchester and Sustainability Matters are coming together to educate the public.

“So that they know what to do, they know what to look for, they know what the host tree is and understand that comes from a particular tree and to get rid of that tree,” said Sustainability Matters organizer Sari Carp. 

The Spotted Lanternfly education event will be held on Monday, May 20 from 7-8:30 PM at Mid-Atlantic Farm Credit in Winchester. Click here to register

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