The spotted lanternfly is on most wanted lists around the world -- and now in Fairfax County.
This pest, originally native to areas of Southeast Asia, is being found in locations throughout the United States, including Virginia since 2018. Its food supply consists of more than 70 plant species, including grapes, hops, apples, stone fruits, and tree-of-heaven, its preferred host. The peach, apple, grape and wine industries in Virginia are threatened most by the spotted lanternfly.
WHERE HAVE LANTERFLIES BEEN SPOTTED?
While a “hitchhiker” adult was found recently in a shipment of produce at a local grocery store in Annandale, there are no current infestations or quarantine in Fairfax County, however surrounding counties have confirmed sightings.
There is currently a spotted lanternfly quarantine in effect in the City of Winchester and Frederick, Clarke and Warren counties. The quarantine is necessary to slow the spread of this insect to un-infested areas of Virginia. Businesses in the quarantined areas are required to obtain state permits and inspect regulated articles to ensure that these articles do not contain any life stage of the spotted lanternfly.
WHAT DO THEY LOOK LIKE?
They are different colors at the four different nymph stages. For example, there are black and white nymphs; red, black and white nymphs; and adults. Adult lanternflies have gray-brown forewings, a black head and black spots. When at rest the hind wings, which are crimson in color, can be partially seen through the semi-translucent forewings, which gives the lanternfly a reddish cast. The lanternfly’s abdomen is yellow with black and white bands on the tip and bottom.
WHEN DO THEY LAY EGGS?
Adults begin laying eggs in October and through the first few hard frosts.The egg masses are covered in a light gray colored wax that looks like mud when it dries.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I SEE SPOTTED LANTERNFLIES?
Any spotted lanternflies you detect should be killed immediately, as they can cause serious damage to home and commercial gardens. There are various ways to destroy the pest, depending on the time of year:
- From October thru July the egg masses can be scraped from items or trees and the trunks covered with adhesive bands. Scrapings should be directed into containers of rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer.
- From mid-May through August insecticide can be utilized on the tree-of-heaven, where the pest primarily feeds.
- Throughout the remainder of the year stump treatments, hack and squirt treatments, foliar sprays, basal bark sprays, as well as tree-of-heaven treatments may be effective.
Spotted lanternflies feed on plant sap and excrete a sticky substance called ‘honeydew,’ which attracts wasps and ants. The honeydew also encourages “sooty mold” growth on plants and trees. This black mold can cover leaf surfaces, stunt plant growth, and together with the insect feeding damage, ruin crops.
WHERE WILL THEY BE FOUND?
While they are known travelers, or “hitchikers” you may find them on items such as wood, plant and landscape materials, trees, rocks, vehicles and many other items stored outdoors.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
To learn more, or if you have questions, contact our Urban Forest Management Division Forest Pest Management Branch at 703-324-1770 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.