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The Dangers of Invasive Insects

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Here we go again! This summer we are facing another invasive insect that could prove to be even more destructive than the Emerald Ash Borer was last year. The Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula), which is native to China, India, and Vietnam, has made its way to the United States where it is threatening our forests, ornamental plants and agriculture.

The Spotted Lanterfly displays a combination of traits that make it a particularly alarming threat. Few predators will feed on it, it’s relatively large in size (about an inch), it exhibits a need for near-constant feeding (like a giant aphid), and it freely moves between and feeds upon more than 70 species — 25 of which can be found in Pennsylvania — to date. Because of all this, the insects have the potential to kill trees and shrubs outright by feeding on them or, even worse, by transmitting diseases from tree to tree. You can learn more about these invasive insects from a feature in the April issue of Tree Care Industry magazine.

First discovered in rural Pennsylvania, the insect has already spread to 13 counties and several other states, including Virginia. The introduction of this insect to our region could be a huge problem for all the vineyards in the area as the Spotted Lanterfly has a predilection for grapes, hops and stone fruits.

The long-term stakes from this invasive insect are immense, so it’s up to us to do our part by protecting our trees and being proactive this season. In June, wrap sticky tape around your trees in order to capture the critters. If you do catch any, make sure to report them to the Virginia Department of Agriculture immediately so they can monitor the spread of the insect.
 

 

Jim Donegan