Loudoun County officials are enlisting homeowners, gardeners, horticultural retailers, agricultural producers and others in a campaign to thwart the spread of the spotted lanternfly. The invasive insect feeds on Ailanthus altissima (Tree of Heaven) and more than 70 plants, including agricultural crops such as grapes, peaches, plums, cherries and hops.
The spotted lanternfly has not yet been detcted in Loudoun, but it has been found in nearby Frederick County. Loudoun officials say the spotted lanternfly could show up in Loudoun by late 2019. Once established, the pest can be is devastating.
The life cycle of the spotted lanternfly is a single generation every year. Adult spotted lanternflies usually die at the onset of winter; however, their egg masses can survive below-zero temperatures. Egg masses typically include 30 to 50 jellybean-shaped eggs in neat rows covered by a waxy substance that looks like mud.
When the spotted lanternfly is feeding on a plant, it secretes honeydew, a sugar-rich sticky liquid that attracts other insects. Honeydew is then colonized by fungi, which gives it a black appearance, like (sooty mold). It is a smelly substance that coats and damages the plant and can also cover the ground below. Spotted lanternfly will not sting or bite humans.
The egg masses can accumulate on tree trunks and other surfaces from October to early spring, creating the possibility that infested material or items containing egg masses could be moved inadvertently to a new location. For example, the spotted lanternfly does not feed on the types of pine trees that are often used as Christmas trees, but its egg masses could accumulate on any tree trunk.
What You Can Do
Early detection is vital to managing the spotted lanternfly. Loudoun residents can help:
- Learn to identify spotted lanternfly in its different life stages.
- Look for spotted lanternfly egg masses from now to early spring by checking tree trunks, wheel wells, lawn furniture, fences, storage sheds, rocks and other smooth surfaces.
- Destroy the egg masses by scraping them from tree bark or any other surface and putting them in a container, such as a bag, filled with rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer. The egg masses can also be smashed.
- Learn to identify Tree of Heaven from other look-alike trees and remove female trees from your yard, using best management practices (BMP) to avoid clone reproduction.
- Share information about the pest with your family, friends, and others in your network to help raise awareness about the threat and what people can do to help stop the spotted lanternfly.
- Report sightings of spotted lanternflies and their egg masses.
Report Sightings Online
- Anyone who sees a spotted lanternfly or an egg mass is encouraged to report it to the Virginia Cooperative Extension, Loudoun Office through this online form Opens a New Window. .
- Guidelines for the Control of Spotted Lanternfly (PDF) Opens a New Window. (Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture)
- Spotted Lanternfly Facts Opens a New Window. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
- Spotted Lanternfly Information and Resources Opens a New Window. (Virginia Cooperative Extension)
- Tree of Heaven Best Management Practices (BMPs) Opens a New Window. (Virginia Department of Forestry)
- Spotted Lanternfly Life Cycle Opens a New Window. (Virginia Tech and Virginia Cooperative Extension)
- Tree of heaven identification Opens a New Window. (Virginia Tech and Virginia Cooperative Extension)
Watch an Educational Video
The video is from Virginia Tech and Virginia Cooperative Extension.