US East Coast: Spotted lanternfly has potential for devastation

Shawn Appling, agent for horticulture serving Orange, Culpeper and Madison counties warns for the spotted lanternfly. This invasive insect was spotted in Frederick County in early January.

The red-winged, black spotted bug sucks the life out of grapevines and fruit trees and typically makes its home in the invasive tree of heaven. Appling is asking that anyone who glimpses lanternflies in any form — adults, nymphs or egg clusters — contact the Virginia Cooperative Extension Office.

“It has large wings and looks kind of like a butterfly or moth,” Appling said. The brightly marked bug is distinctively different, however. “It has those large wings but doesn’t fly very well. It usually hops from tree to tree or from plant to plant,” he said. The nymph is a tiny red troublemaker adorned with white spots.

The spotted lanternfly was first sighted in the United States in September 2014. Appling said researchers believe the bug arrived in Philadelphia via shipping pallets from China. Until now, quarantine efforts in Pennsylvania had been successful.

According to a article, researchers in Pennsylvania and at Virginia Tech are working on the problem of quarantining a flying insect. Local residents can help the cause — and protect their own property — by keeping an eye out for the invasive insect.

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