BERKELEY COUNTY, W.Va. (WOWK) — The West Virginia Department of Agriculture has confirmed the presence of a new, invasive insect, the Spotted Lanternfly, in West Virginia. A small population of Spotted Lanternfly has been detected in the Bunker Hill area of Berkeley County on October 30. 2019. The United States Department of Agriculture – Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service confirmed the findings.
“We have been surveying for this invasive pest for the past two years. We knew it was only a matter of time until the Spotted Lanternfly made it to our state,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt. “The next step is to ask for formal assistance from our federal and state partners to put together an action plan to combat this pest.”
The Spotted Lanternfly is an invasive planthopper 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 invasive tree known as Tree-of-Heaven, but also feed on a wide range of crops and plants, including, grapes, apples, hops, walnuts, and hardwood trees.
“Our main concern is protecting the orchards and wineries in the Eastern Panhandle. Without proper management, the Spotted Lanternfly could have a devasting impact on these industries. We must act swiftly if we are to diminish their impact,” said Leonhardt.
Treatments will be conducted for the Spotted Lanternfly in the spring of 2020 in cooperation with USDA-APHIS if needed. The WVDA is encouraging landowners to inspect their property for egg masses, especially on properties that contain numerous Tree-of-Heaven.