In October, the Virginia Cooperative Extension determined the spotted lanternfly, an invasive species from China, was invading plants in Winchester. Now, its concerned the bug will make its way to its neighbor, Loudoun County.
The spotted lanternfly sucks sap from plants and secretes a honeydew, which produces a deadly, black fungi. This poses a risk to Loudoun’s 46 wineries and 26 breweries and to homeowners, too, as the lanternfly has over 70 hosts.
“They are not good fliers, they can move, like, four miles per year,” said Bethzabet Sastre-Flores, commercial horticulturalist for Virginia Corporate Extension. “But the thing is; they are good hitchhikers. Excellent hitchhikers.”
While the lanternfly can’t be exterminated, it can be controlled. That’s why Loudoun County is offering free training to help stop the spread. The Virginia Cooperative Extention teaches residents how to identify the spotted lanternfly at different life stages, destroy egg masses that are laid on tree trunks or other surfaces, and how to identify the Tree of Heaven, one of the lanternfly’s favorite hosts, and remove female trees from their yard.