WVDA confirms presence of Spotted Lanternfly in West Virginia

West Virginia

This Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, photo shows a spotted lanternfly at a vineyard in Kutztown, Pa. The spotted lanternfly has emerged as a serious pest since the federal government confirmed its arrival in southeastern Pennsylvania five years ago this week. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) has confirmed the presence of a new, invasive insect, the Spotted Lanternfly, in West Virginia.

According to a release from the WVDA, a small population of Spotted Lanternfly was detected in the Bunker Hill area of Berkeley County on October 30. The release stated the United States Department of Agriculture – Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) confirmed the findings.

“We have been surveying for this invasive pest for the past two years. We knew it was only a matter of time until the Spotted Lanternfly made it to our state,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt. “The next step is to ask for formal assistance from our federal and state partners to put together an action plan to combat this pest.”

The release stated the Spotted Lanternfly is an invasive plant hopper that is native to China, and likely arrived in North America hidden on goods imported from Asia. According to the release, juvenile spotted lantern flies, known as nymphs, and adults prefer to feed on the invasive tree known as Tree-of-Heaven, but also feed on a wide range of crops and plants, including grapes, apples, hops, walnuts and hardwood trees.

“Our main concern is protecting the orchards and wineries in the Eastern Panhandle. Without proper management, the Spotted Lanternfly could have a devastating impact on these industries. We must act swiftly if we are to diminish their impact,” Leonhardt said.

The release stated that treatments will be conducted for the Spotted Lanternfly in the spring of 2020 in cooperation with USDA-APHIS, if needed. In the release, the WVDA stated they are encouraging landowners to inspect their property for eggs masses, especially on properties that contain numerous Tree-of-Heaven.

For more information, or to report potential Spotted Lanternfly sightings, email bugbusters@wvda.us or call 304-788-1066.

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