The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says the spotted lanternfly has recently been confirmed in Bedford County.
The spotted lanternfly is an invasive insect indigenous to China with no natural enemies in the United States. Its preferred host is Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima), but it will feed on more than 100 other plant species including apple, peach and cherry trees, and grape vines. It is considered a threat to agriculture.
The insect was first reported in the United States in 2014 in Berks County, Pennsylvania, north of Philadelphia, and first discovered in Virginia in 2018. Four localities in the northern Shenandoah Valley — Clarke County, Frederick County and Warren County, plus Winchester — are now considered “heavily infested” by the state agriculture department. Scott Baker, Senior Extension Agent for the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service in Bedford County, said that “a few insects” were found on private property in the Forest community.
If you find Spotted Lanternfly outside of these areas, please report the finding to your local Virginia Cooperative Extension Office. The insect has been sighted in multiple other localities (see map.)
To slow the insect’s spread, the state agriculture department established a quarantine in numerous Virginia localities west of the Blue Ridge and some localities east of the Blue Ridge. The localities currently under quarantine are: Albemarle, Augusta, Carroll, Clarke, Frederick, Page, Prince William, Rockbridge, Rockingham, Shenandoah, Warren and Wythe Counties, and the Cities of Buena Vista, Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, Lexington, Lynchburg, Manassas, Manassas Park, Staunton, Waynesboro and Winchester. The quarantine requires businesses to obtain a permit from the state agriculture department and inspect all regulated items before they leave the quarantine area.
The list of regulated items includes:
- Live or dead trees; nursery stock; green lumber; firewood; logs; perennial plants; garden plants or produce; stumps; branches; mulch; or composted or un-composted chips, bark, or yard waste;
- Outdoor industrial or construction materials or equipment; concrete barriers or structures; stone, quarry material, ornamental stone, or concrete; or construction, landscaping, or remodeling waste;
- Shipping containers, such as wood crates or boxes;
- Outdoor household articles, including recreational vehicles; lawn tractors or mowers; grills; grill or furniture covers; tarps; mobile homes; tile; stone; deck boards; or
- Any equipment, trucks, or vehicles not stored indoors; any means of conveyance utilized for movement of an article; any vehicle; or any trailer, wagon.
Bedford County is not currently under quarantine but the department will be conducting additional surveys in the county to determine the insect’s spread. A statement from the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service said residents can play a role in preventing the spread of spotted lanternfly by:
- Killing any life stage of spotted lanternfly if found
- Inspecting and killing spotted lanternfly before moving any items that are stored outdoors
- Managing spotted lanternfly’s favorite host, Tree of Heaven, on your property
- Keeping windows and doors shut
- Not parking near trees and shrubs
- Not storing items under or near trees and shrubs