A small population of spotted lanternflies was detected in the Bunker Hill area of Berkeley County on October 30, and the findings were confirmed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The spotted lanternfly is an invasive planthopper that is native to China and likely arrived in North America hidden on goods imported from Asia, according to state commissioner of agriculture Kent Leonhardt.
“We have been surveying for this invasive pest for the past two years, Leonhardt said. "We knew it was only a matter of time until the spotted lanternfly made it to our state.
“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.
Adult and juvenile spotted lanternflies, known as nymphs, prefer to feed on the invasive tree known as Tree-of-Heaven (Ailanthus altissima), 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," Leonhardt said.
"We must act swiftly if we are to diminish their impact.”
Treatments will be conducted in the spring of 2020 in cooperation with USDA, if needed, and the WVDA is encouraging landowners to inspect their property for egg masses, especially on properties that contain numerous Tree-of-Heaven.
For more information or to report potential Spotted Lanternfly sightings, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-788-1066