RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) has detected Spotted Lanternfly (SLF) (Lycorma delicatula) in Prince William County, Virginia. The isolated SLF detection included egg masses and nymphs at one site within the county. SLF has also been found in the city of Winchester and the counties of Clarke, Frederick and Warren, which are all included in Virginia’s SLF quarantine. At this time, Prince William County has not been included in the SLF quarantine.
VDACS will continue to survey Prince William County to determine the extent of the SLF population. All homeowners, nurseries, related businesses and local governments are encouraged to scout for SLF. If you find this pest, please report your findings on the Virginia Tech reporting site, https://ext.vt.edu/agriculture/commercial-horticulture/spotted-lanternfly.html, 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, VDACS has been working with the United States Department of Agriculture to survey and conduct treatments of SLF-infested areas.
The spotted lanternfly is a native insect of Asia and prefers feeding on the Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima), 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.
–Michael Wallace, VDACS