The spotted lanternfly — an invasive insect the West Virginia Department of Agriculture has been bracing for — has turned up in neighboring Mineral County.
WVDA said a 2nd population of the invader was spotted near Ridgeley on Sept. 28 and confirmed by WVDA this week. The state’s 1st sighting was last October in the Bunker Hill area of Berkeley County.
The new sighting was reported through the WVDA’s Bug Busters hotline on Sept. 28 and confirmed by WVDA and the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service employees last week. The WVDA collected a specimen and will be conducting treatments with APHIS to contain the insects.
“The greater the effort to track the movement of this pest, the more effective our treatment can be to combat it,” WVDA spotted lanternfly coordinator Kristen Wickert said. “We rely heavily on the public to aid us on this effort.”
If you see a spotted lanternfly, collect a specimen and report it to WVDA via firstname.lastname@example.org or at 304 558 2212.
WVDA has been tracking the lanternfly since 2017, Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt said.
The spotted lanternfly is an invasive plant-hopper that is native to China and likely arrived in North America hidden on goods imported from Asia. Juvenile spotted lanternflies, known as nymphs, and adults prefer to feed on the tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima), which is also considered an invasive species.
But the lanternflies also feed on a wide range of crops and plants, including, grapes, apples, hops, walnuts and hardwood trees.
Laying eggs in the fall, the insects hatch out in the spring just in time for the tender green leaves and early fruits of many species of trees.
When they are found on weeds or anywhere outdoors, spray them with vinegar, which will kill both the bugs and the weeds. In the home, scraping away any the eggs clusters, double-bag them and throw them in the trash.
Winchester has an infestation, so any Hampshire County residents who commute there daily are encouraged to check vehicles for eggs and bugs, as they are excellent hitchhikers.
These pests are considered so dangerous to crops that counties in which they are found will be quarantined. No plant materials — and especially trees and firewood — can be transported out of the infested area.
Winchester and Frederick County, Va., are now under quarantine. The infestation has grown from a square mile to 16 square miles in a year.
The list of items that are quarantined includes RVs, grills, mowers, Christmas trees, landscaping items and children’s playhouses. Those items can be transported from the area, but only after visual inspection.