The invasive insect species known as the spotted lanternfly has turned up in Loudoun County, Virginia.
It is a native insect to China and threatens many fruit crops and trees, according to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
Officials say this invasive insect has previously been found in Pennsylvania and in other parts of Virginia such as Winchester, Charlottesville and Prince William County.
Virginia officials have been tracking the spotted lanternfly for over four years and anticipated the pest would spread to Loudoun County.
Residents who see spotted lanternflies are encouraged to take actions to slow the spread:
- Educate yourself about the spotted lanternfly so that you know how to recognize the insect throughout its life cycle.
- Inspect your surroundings: Look for spotted lanternfly egg masses and insects by checking tree trunks and wheel wells, as well as under and around vehicles, lawn furniture, fences, storage sheds, rocks, metal surfaces (especially if they are rusty) and other smooth surfaces.
- Kill live insects on sight and squash/scrape off their egg masses.
- Take a photo of the bugs and/or egg masses and report the finding through an online form that is posted on the county’s website at loudoun.gov/spottedlanternfly. Your reports can help track the spread of the invasive insect in Loudoun.
“Increased public awareness and vigilance is a critical tool in slowing the spread of this damaging insect,” said Beth Sastre, a horticulturist with the Virginia Cooperative Extension. “Because the spotted lanternfly’s appearance changes dramatically throughout its life cycle, we encourage residents to take the time to learn how to recognize the different stages and to take steps to remove the insect from their property.”