Spotted Lantern Fly quarantine zone expanded across the Valley

Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 5:47 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Beginning in early July, the entire Shenandoah Valley will be added to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services quarantine zone aimed at stopping the spread of the invasive Spotted Lantern Fly.

The current quarantine zone encompasses Clarke, Fredrick, and Warren counties as well as the City of Winchester. The original lantern fly outbreak took place in Fredrick County and Winchester in 2018 but now the insect has made its way down the Valley.

“In the Valley area, we’ve seen a lot of spread over the last couple of years. We’ve really put a lot of treatment dollars and treatment time into targeting those sites and making sure the lantern flies get treated. Unfortunately, they have survived the treatments and been able to spread,” said David Gianino, program manager for the VDACS office of plant industry services.

In the coming weeks, the quarantine zone will be expanded to encompass Albermarle, Augusta, Caroll, Page, Prince William, Rockingham, Rockbridge, Shenandoah, and Wythe counties. It will also include the cities of Buena Vista, Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, Lexington, Lynchburg, Manassas, Staunton, and Waynesboro.

Any businesses inside the quarantine zone will have to get a permit from VDACS in order to transport materials outside the quarantine zone. All vehicles and products leaving the quarantine zone have to be inspected for the insects, as hitching a ride on vehicles is the primary way they spread.

“It’s a major invasive pest that we have here in Virginia and we want everybody to kind of help us control this pest by taking action. If they see that pest stomp it, scrape it, or squash it in any way that they can,” said Gianino.

In addition to being a nuisance, the lantern flies can be especially devastating to vineyards because they feed on and destroy grape vines.

“It hasn’t evolved here with any sort of natural predators so one aspect of an invasive pest is that without any sort of natural predators their populations can get completely out of control which has negative effects for the plants that they feed on,” said Gianino.

The insects also feed on a variety of tree species.

“The damage that this pest can do is it will feed on the sap within the tree or within the vine and what it does is anything that it can’t process it will exude as honeydew. That honeydew will be sent out the back of the insect and create a moist, sweet environment for fungus to grow, that fungus is called sooty mold,” said Gianino.

The sooty mold impacts the photosynthetic capability of the plant which can stop it from growing and in some cases kill it.

So far VDACS said the majority of Spotted Lantern Flies in the Valley are in the northern counties like Page and Shenandoah, but there are some isolated populations in southern counties like Augusta and Rockingham.

You can learn more about the flies and the quarantine zone requirements here.

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