lantern fly

The spotted lantern fly has recently been found in Virginia.

The Spotted Lantern Fly (SLF) originates from China, where its presence has been documented in detail dating as far back as the 12th century. In modern times, it was first recorded from a sample collected in Nankin, China. SLF is native to China, India, Japan, Korea and Vietnam. This is attributed to its wide host range (more than 70 host plant species) and a lack of natural native enemies.

In February, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) announced the detection of a new invasive insect pest in Virginia. In early January, VDACS inspectors discovered the Spotted Lantern Fly, lycorma delicatula, at a stone yard in Frederick County near Winchester. Prior to the January detection, the Spotted Lantern Fly was not known to occur in Virginia. Both SLF egg masses and dead adults were detected at the Winchester site.

Spotted Lantern Fly feeds on more than 70 plants, including grapes, stone fruits, hops and ailanthus (Tree of Heaven). The insect causes damage to plants because of its method of feeding, the rapid buildup of large populations and the production of honeydew, a by-product of their feeding activity that serves as a medium for fungal growth. SLF can also be a nuisance pest to homeowners when found in large numbers.

The first U.S. detection of SLF occurred in 2014 at a Pennsylvania business that imports stone products. Stone products from that business went to the Winchester site. VDACS inspectors had been monitoring the Winchester site since 2015, with no positive detections until a routine follow up survey in January. Inspectors then found SLF on ailanthus trees on the property.

Early detection is vital for the management of any newly introduced plant pest. VDACS is now conducting a survey in the surrounding area in an effort to determine the extent of the infestation. VDACS is also working with Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to determine management and control strategies for SLF.

It is highly invasive and can spread rapidly when introduced to new areas. This is attributed to its wide host range (more than 70 host plant species) and a lack of natural native enemies.

At this point, no SLF have been reported in our area; however, it is important to note the locations that it has been spotted. If you plan on purchasing materials from those areas or traveling in those areas, take precautions to not give them a ride back to your home.

For more information on Spotted Lantern Fly in Virginia, call Debra Martin, program manager in the VDACS Office of Plant Industry Services, at 804-786-3515.

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April 24--Camp Sign Up, Chilhowie Elementary School, 5:30-7 p.m., $200.

May 5--PD 3 Area 4-H Contest, Chilhowie High School.

May 9--Bristol Steer and Heifer Show, Washington County Fairgrounds, Abingdon.

May 10-12--Iron Mountain Tractor Club Spring Show, Riverside Community Center.

May 12--PD 3 Area 4-H Share-The-Fun Competitions, Higher Ed Center, Abingdon.

May 16--VESA Conference, VSU Campus, Petersburg.

May 17-18--South Carolina Ag Agents Annual Meeting, Newberry, S.C.

June 18-22--Smyth County 4-H Camp, Abingdon.

June 22-26--North Carolina Ag Agents Annual Meeting, Atlantic Beach, N.C.

July 11-13--Texas State Ag Agents Annual Meeting, Denison, Texas.

July 29-Aug 2--NACAA AM/PIC, Chattanooga, Tenn.

Dr. Andy Overbay is Smyth County’s agriculture and natural resources extension agent.

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