Spotted lanternfly was recently reported in Virginia for the first time – about two weeks ago in Winchester, to be exact. An invasive insect originating from China, it was first detected in the United States in eastern Pennsylvania in 2014.
Why do we care? Due to its invasive status, spotted lanternfly has few or unknown natural enemies to control its population levels, thus, allowing its population density to skyrocket and cause greater amounts of damage. Spotted lanternflies are generalist predators of many trees and plants; they feed from young stems and leaves of plants which eventually leads to plant death. They favor the invasive tree-of-heaven which has a very widespread distribution.
If you think you see this insect in Virginia, report it to your local extension office or contact the Insect Identification Lab at Virginia Tech (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a proper ID. For more information, see the recently-published VCE Spotted Lanternfly Fact Sheet.