CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) has confirmed a third county, Jefferson, that now hosts the invasive Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula). Jefferson County was added to the list, which includes Berkeley and Mineral, after United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) collaborators spotted a small population on May 27 near Kearneysville, WV. The WVDA and USDA-APHIS confirmed the findings the following week. The WVDA will be conducting treatments with USDA-APHIS to contain the insects.
“This will continue to be a growing problem that threatens agriculture and our homeowner’s properties. We hope a more robust federal effort to contain and slow the spread of these insects will be initiated soon,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt. “If you believe you spot the Spotted Lanternfly, make sure to report it to the WVDA.”
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.
“The WVDA is encouraging landowners to inspect their property for the black nymph life stage now, especially for properties that contain numerous tree-of-heaven,” said WVDA Spotted Lanternfly Coordinator Kristen Wickert. “The greater the effort to track the movement of this pest, the more effective our treatment can be to combat it. We rely heavily on the public to aid us on this effort.”
Treatments for the Spotted Lanternfly are done in cooperation with USDA-APHIS.
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.