Spotted Lanternfly in Virginia

The first confirmed detection of spotted lanternfly in the United States, was near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 2014. By the end of 2017, it had been confirmed in 13 Pennsylvania counties as well as a single county each in both Delaware and New York State. January of 2018, brought the first confirmed detection in Virginia. Frederick County was the unfortunate landing place of spotted lanternfly in this state.

Spotted lanternfly has been seen feeding on grapes, peaches, hops, apples, and on many forest trees in Pennsylvania. This insect does not chew leaves (as in the case of Japanese beetles) but is instead a phloem feeder (drinking the sugar rich fluids of the plant). The nymphs have a wide host range of at least 70 plant species. The adults are commonly found on tree of heaven, Ailanthus altissima, as well as showing a fondness for grapes in late summer and fall. It has the potential to be a serious pest of agriculture and home landscapes. Nymphs are expected to be active mid-April in Virginia, with mature adults being present by at least the end of June. The insects produce large quantities of sugary secretions called honey dew. Black sooty mold may grow on this honey dew, which can cover branches, trunks, and man-made objects under the tree. Severe wilting may also be seen in heavily infested plantings. 


·         First stage nymph is wingless, black, and has whites spots on the body and legs

·         Last nymphal instar develops red patches over the body, while retaining the white spots

·         Adults are about 1 inch long and 0.5 in wide. Legs and head are black, with a yellow abdomen, crossed with broad black bands on the top and bottom.

·         Forewings are a light brown/grey with black spots, with wing tips having black rectangular blocks, outlined in grey

·         Hind wings are a scarlet red with black spots and tips, separated by white stripes

·         Egg masses are laid on any smooth surface (tree trunks, rocks, etc.) 1-1.5 inch long and 0.5-0.75 inch wide, gray/brown in color and covered with a grey, waxy coating

Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has established a quarantine for Frederick County and the City of Winchester, more information can be found on their website: The importance and potential impact of this pest to agricultural crops and homeowner properties should not be underestimated.

Please contact your local Virginia Cooperative Extension County Office to submit suspected samples or to obtain more information:

·         Day, E., D. Pfeiffer, T. Dellinger, and C. Bergh. Pest Alert: Spotted Lanternfly Lycorma delicatula. Virginia Cooperative Extension Publication ENTO-265NP. 2018.

·         Pfeiffer, D., E. Day, and P. Sisti. Spotted Lanternfly. Virginia Cooperative Extension Publication ENTO-264NP. 2018.

·         Spotted Lanternfly in Virginia website:



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  • Every state has an official State Tree. Virginia adopted the flowering dogwood Cornaceae Cornus floridaas the State Tree on February 24, 1956.  The dogwood is well distributed throughout the...

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