Volume 24 Issue 3, Summer 2019
by Kerry Bzdyk
In the year since we first reported on the arrival of the Spotted Lanternfly in our region, its numbers have grown. This invasive insect was found in Winchester in January 2018. Since then the area of detection has grown from one square mile to 16 square miles, prompting the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to issue a quarantine this past May. That quarantine regulates the movement of items on which the Lanternfly or its eggs may be attached. Homeowners and businesses alike are required to inspect any items that are stored outdoors before they are transported out of the quarantine area. Businesses within the quarantine are required to obtain a permit to be allowed to self-inspect before moving goods.
The Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) is a plant hopper that is native to Asia, where it primarily feeds on Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima). Adults measure about an inch long and a half-inch wide with their wings folded. The forewings are mainly gray with black spots near the base and a darker region at the tip with lighter veins. The hind wings are a bright scarlet at the base, with an area of black with a white band. The abdomen is yellow, with black bands down the center.
Since it was first detected in Berks County, Pennsylvania, in 2014, it has shown a remarkable ability to thrive and spread. Its habit of laying eggs on any outdoor surface (including trucks, lawn furniture, play equipment, etc.) has contributed to its spread. It is a particular threat to agriculture in our region, feeding on commercially valuable crops such as grapes, apples, and other foods. In addition, the Spotted Lanternfly is also a notable pest to homeowners. Lanternflies feed on ornamental and native vegetation and secrete honeydew, which is a sticky sweet liquid that attracts the growth of mold and the interest of ants and other insects.
The possibility of this insect finding its way to Loudoun County is real, but there is much you can do to help prevent a full invasion. By familiarizing yourself with the description and life cycle of the Spotted Lanternfly and its preferred host tree, and remaining observant in your daily routine, you may be able to detect this invader and report your find quickly.
For detailed descriptions with photos click here where you will also find a link for reporting any sightings. If possible, take photographs or capture specimens. Be extra vigilant when transporting outdoor items that may be purchased for home use. Last, spread the word. Tell friends and neighbors about this invasive species. With awareness and vigilance we can help prevent the spread of this harmful pest.