Beautiful Bug/ Invasive Pest Spotted in NWVA

Feb 13, 2018

Just when you think you’ve had it with this year’s Stink Bug infestation, there’s a new invasive insect on the horizon in Virginia.  Scientists say, not much could be done to eradicate it if it takes hold, but there are ways to stop it from spreading.  

The Spotted Lantern Fly

Virginia’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says there’s a new invasive insect in the state. It eats more than 70 plants, including grapes, hops and peaches. It’s called the ‘Spotted Lantern Fly,” but it mostly doesn’t.  Instead, it gets around by laying its eggs on wooden pallets or ornamental rocks, which hitch a ride if they’re moved to other gardens.

Virginia Tech Entomologist Eric Day says if the eggs hatch near their favorite host, which is another invasive species known as the Tree of Heaven, the bug will spread fast.    

Eric Day, Virginia Tech Entomologist Studies Invasive Species like Spotted Lantern Fly
Credit Virginia Tech

“That combining of the host plant, the host tree and mobile nature of this insect; it makes eradication of this insect simply impossible. And (attempting) eradication would be very expensive and chemical-intensive. You’re looking at a lot of insecticide being put in the environment to try to eradicate it.”

That’s what’s going on in Pennsylvania now, where spotted Lantern Fly was first identified in the U.S. in 2014. So far, it’s been seen virtually nowhere else in the country except the northwestern Virginia city of Winchester, where efforts are underway to keep it contained.  

“There at that site where they were found in Winchester ,they took out all the Tree of Heaven at that site and they took out all the surrounding trees, they burned the material, which included spotted lantern flies and egg masses, so that may have knocked back the population right there pretty well. But we still have the potential that they may have spread from there.” 

The fly got a lot of attention this week when VDACS posted its picture, so people could be on the lookout. It’s a beautiful bug that flashes its bright red, underwings, just for show in spring, like the tiny flying Chinese lantern it is. But, Entomologists warn, that doesn’t make it any less dangerous to native crops.

Credit Pennsylvania Dept. of Agriculture

For more information about Spotted Lantern Fly click here