Invasive insect discovered in Virginia threatens vineyards

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FREDERICK COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) -- A new invasive species of insect was found in parts of Virginia this January, and the Virginia department of agriculture is concerned about the impact it could have on vineyards.

Photo: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture

It's called the Spotted Lanternfly, and it's native to China, India and Vietnam. The insect was found in Pennsylvania in 2014, but wasn't spotted in Virginia until last month when eggs and dead adults were found in Frederick County.

The Spotted Lanternfly eats more than 70 different plants including apples, peaches and grapes. One of the main concerns is the substance the insect creates while it eats causes fungus growth, which wine grapes are particularly susceptible to.

"Well we heard about damage being done to the north in Pennsylvania and as far south as Delaware, so seeing the news that it's in Winchester was definitely very concerning" said Steve Monson, manager at CrossKeys Vineyards.

He says CrossKeys Vineyards hasn't seen any Spotted Lanternflies yet, but the insect is already on their radar.

"We're taking some proactive measures already, trying to clear out underbrush, places that they'll live," Monson said, "and hopefully keep them away from the vineyard so we don't see a massive infestation."

If you find what you think might be a Spotted Lanternfly, you should report it here