If you purchase live material for your holiday decorating that was not grown in Loudoun County such as trees, wreaths and garlands, officials ask that you examine the material to look for egg masses of the spotted lanternfly; an invasive insect that can affect agricultural and ornamental plants.
Adult spotted lanternflies 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. The egg masses can accumulate on tree trunks, branches, and other surfaces from the fall to early spring when they hatch.
“We would like anyone who finds spotted lanternfly egg masses to take a photo and send the photo to us through our online form at loudoun.gov/spottedlanternfly. Then, destroy the eggs by scrapping the eggs into a baggy with alcohol,” said Beth Sastre, a horticulturist with the Virginia Cooperative Extension, Loudoun County.
Sastre advises residents to be aware that there could also be beneficial insects, such as praying mantises, that may lay eggs on trees and people could mistakenly think are spotted lanternfly eggs. She advises that mantis eggs should be taken outside so that they can hatch in the warm weather.
Sastre recommends that residents who are considering buying decorative live material for the holidays purchase it from one of the many local farms in Loudoun because the spotted lanternfly has not been detected in Loudoun. If the decorative material is not purchased in Loudoun, inspect it very carefully. The insect has been discovered in nearby Frederick and Clarke Counties in Virginia, as well as West Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Maine. View a map of known spotted lanternfly distribution in the eastern United States (PDF).
Loudoun County is offering free virtual training and information sessions to help increase awareness of the threat of the spotted lanternfly. The educational sessions offered by the Virginia Cooperative Extension, Loudoun County are designed to equip homeowners associations, farmers and other individuals and organizations in the county with the information they need to help prevent the spread of the invasive insect. More information about the training sessions and about the spotted lanternfly may be found at loudoun.gov/spottedlanternfly.
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