Lanternfly threatens everyone’s fruit crops, vineyards and backyard

Mottled lanterns are beautiful insects. Adults look like moths with red and yellow wings. The nymphs are black or red with white spots, and all pose a smelly threat according to cooperative extension agent Adam Downy.

“Colleagues in southeast Pennsylvania are reporting so many and many calls for co-op extension on how to get rid of this thing that’s covering their back decks in bug poop, which is nicely called the honeydew. It grows sooty mold and it stinks,” he says.

Extension of the cooperative in Virginia


Immature spotted lanternflies

Cooperative Extension has caught Mottled Lanterns in special traps, but Downy says it’s hard to catch them by hand. “They are quite sneaky. They don’t make a sound and move quickly to the other side of a twig or branch when you reach for them, and they’re phenomenal hoppers,” says Downy.

First identified in 2018 in Warren and Clarke counties, the insects have now been seen in Albemarle County.

“If you see anything like it, please take a picture,” suggests Downy. “If you’re pretty sure it is, feel free to crush it – especially if it’s in an area that hasn’t been confirmed yet, and contact your local extension office.”

He adds that lanterns are spread by hitchhiking on trucks or cars and that quarantines may be needed to prevent them from moving to other parts of the state.

You can find more information here.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

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