Charleston, W.Va. – Taylor County has now been added to the list of West Virginia counties where the invasive pest spotted lanternfly (SLF) has been detected. A single spotted lanternfly was found in a trap set by the WVDA in early August near Grafton. The United States Department of Agriculture-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) confirmed the finding. WVDA Plant Industries staff found a sizable population of the pest near downtown Grafton earlier this month. Taylor is the eighth county in West Virginia where spotted lanternfly have been detected. The other counties include Hancock, Brooke, Mineral, Hampshire, Morgan, Berkeley, and Jefferson.
“The WVDA is working closely with USDA-APHIS to identify and treat areas where spotted lanternfly is found,” stressed West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt. “However, with no known native predators, spotted lanternfly will continue to spread across our state, impacting agriculture industries and private property. We hope a more robust federal effort to contain and slow the spread of these insects will be initiated soon.”
The spotted lanternfly is an invasive plant hopper that is native to China and arrived in North America hidden on goods imported from Asia. Juvenile spotted lanternflies, known as nymphs, and adults 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.
“There has been some success treating infested areas with insecticide. Removing tree-of-heaven from your property is another step to take to slow the spread,” according to WVDA SLF Program Coordinator James Watson. “We are also encouraging landowners to report any sightings of spotted lanternfly to our firstname.lastname@example.org account. It is important that we track their movement. We rely heavily on the public to aid us in this effort.”
Spotted lanternfly can travel short distances on their own, but their main mode of movement is hitchhiking. Those who travel to an area with spotted lanternfly populations are asked to carefully inspect their vehicles, trailers, boats, ATVs, and any other surfaces for hitchhikers before they head home.
For more information on spotted lanternfly, visit our website at: https://agriculture.wv.gov/divisions/plant-industries/spotted-lanternfly/. To report a spotted lanternfly sighting, send a photo, your location, and contact information to email@example.com or call 304-558-2212.
The West Virginia Department of Agriculture protects plant, animal and human health through a variety of scientific, regulatory and consumer protection programs. The Commissioner of Agriculture is one of six statewide elected officials who sits on the Board of Public Works.