RALEIGH, N.C. — Several weeks ago, an established population of the spotted lanternfly was found in Hillsville, VA (Carroll County), less than 20 miles from the VA-NC state line. This is the closest infestation to NC to date. It is now more important than ever for North Carolinians to stay vigilant and report spotted lanternfly if they see it.
Spotted lanternfly is a non-native invasive insect with a wide host range, known to attack over 70 species of woody plants. The greatest impact will be felt on NC agriculture (e.g., grapes/wine production and fruit trees), tourism and event industries, and as a general nuisance pest.
As a sucking insect, spotted lanternfly uses straw-like mouthparts to remove nutrients and sugars from plants, reducing plant vigor. This increases susceptibility to other stress agents, reduces crop quality and quantity, impacts plant cold hardiness, and can lead to death.
Spotted lanternfly is notorious for its habit to cluster together which not only means many insects feed simultaneously, but they can be quite a nuisance to the public. In areas they’ve become established, insects cluster on businesses preventing entry, fly into stores, drop honeydew on cars and other objects, cluster on or near homes, and sometimes land on people. If established in NC, they will quickly become notorious and greatly disliked!
Early detection is critical in the management of this pest. Everyone is asked to stay vigilant and report spotted lanternfly if you see or suspect that you see it. Please take a picture and submit it in an email to email@example.com or call the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at 919-707-3730.
–Kelly Oten, N.C. State Extension