Spotted Lanternfly

News and Announcements

Free Lecture on the Spotted Lanternfly

Tuesday, April 30, 2019
Virginia Cooperative Extension, Loudoun County
750 Miller Drive, SE, Suite F-3 Leesburg

Learn more about the invasive spotted lanternfly. While this pest has not yet been identified in Loudoun County, early identification is key to control any further spread. Please join us to find out more about this unwanted, hitch-hiking insect and learn how you can help by reporting any sightings. Please confirm your attendance by email. Registration is limited to 30 people on a first-come, first- served basis.

Anyone who needs an assistive device, services or other reasonable accommodation to participate should contact the Virginia Cooperative Extension, Loudoun Office, at 703-777-0373 or 800-828-1120 (TDD) between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., weekdays, at least five days prior to the event.

Image of Stages of Spotted Lanternfly

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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 detected 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 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 or pets.

The egg masses are laid 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, metal surfaces (especially if they are rusty) and other smooth surfaces.
  • Take pictures of and report sightings of spotted lanternflies and their egg masses.
  • 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.

Motorists

The spotted lanternfly is a very effective hitchhiker, so if you are driving into Loudoun from an area where the spotted lanternfly has been detected, make sure to check your vehicle for any signs of the insect. Check the front of your car, the crevasses of your tires, behind and underneath your car. Remember that egg masses may be underneath your vehicle or in your wheel well. During all other times of the year, check for nymphs and adults, and keep your windows rolled up when you park. Scrape off the egg masses and squash them.

Report Sightings Online

Training

Loudoun County is offering free 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.

To request a training session or for more information about the spotted lanternfly, contact horticulturalist Beth Flores-Sastre of the Virginia Cooperative Extension, Loudoun County by phone at 703-737-8978 or by email.  

Resources

Watch an Educational Video

The video below is from Virginia Tech and Virginia Cooperative Extension.