CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WBOY) — After spotted lanternflies were confirmed in Taylor County in August, they have now expanded into two additional counties, totaling 10 counties in West Virginia.
According to the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, (WVDA) the pest has been detected in both Hardy and Grant counties in the Eastern Panhandle. Originally from Asia, the spotted lanternfly has no known native predators in the U.S. and is a threat to the state’s agriculture, especially grapes, apples, hops, walnuts and hardwood trees, according to the WVDA.
Although the WVDA and U.S. Department of Agriculture are working to prevent the spread of the insect, WVDA Commissioner Kent Leonhardt said in a release from Friday that it “will continue to spread across our state.”
The release said that the following measures are being taken to slow and prevent the spread of invasive spotted lanternflies:
- Removing tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima), an invasive species and preferred food of the spotted lanternfly
- Treating infested areas with insecticide
Leonhardt also said that the WVDA hopes that a federal effort to slow the spread will be initiated soon.
Spotted lanternflies are confirmed by the WVDA in Hancock, Brooke, Mineral, Hampshire, Morgan, Berkeley, Jefferson and Taylor and now Hardy and Grant counties.
West Virginians who want to help prevent the spotted lanternfly’s spread should do the following:
- Report sightings of the spotted lanternfly to email@example.com
- After photographing and reporting the lanternfly, smash/kill it if possible
- Remove tree-of-heaven from your property
- Inspect your vehicles (vehicles, trailers, boats, ATVs, and any other surfaces) before traveling out of an area with spotted lanternflies
According to the WVDA, spotted lanternflies can only travel short distances on their own and often hitchhike.