Spotted lanternfly has been detected in Prince William County, Virginia. The isolated detection included egg masses and nymphs at one site within the county. Spotted lanternfly has also been found in the city of Winchester and the counties of Clarke, Frederick and Warren, which are all included in Virginia’s spotted lanternfly quarantine. At this time, Prince William County has not been included in the quarantine.
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will continue to survey Prince William County to determine the extent of the lanternfly population. All homeowners, nurseries, related businesses and local governments are encouraged to scout for spotted lanternfly. If you find this pest, please report your findings on the Virginia Tech reporting site at bit.ly/LanternflyVT, by email at Spottedlanternfly@vdacs.virginia.gov or contact your local Virginia Cooperative Extension office.
The spotted lanternfly is an invasive insect pest. The state’s first discovery of this pest was in Frederick County in January 2018 and at that time, it was just the second known detection of the spotted lanternfly in the U.S.
The first occurrence of spotted lanternfly in the U.S. occurred in Pennsylvania in 2014. Since 2018, the Ag Department has been working with the USDA to survey and conduct treatments of spotted lanternfly-infested areas.
The spotted lanternfly is a native insect of Asia and prefers feeding on the invasive Tree of Heaven, but will also feed on more than 70 plants, including grapes, peaches, apples, maples, walnuts, hops, cucumbers and basil.
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, serves as a medium for fungal growth.
The spotted lanternfly also has the potential to be a serious nuisance pest to homeowners when it is present in high numbers.