The spotted lanternfly, an invasive insect, has been spotted in Winchester and prompted a regional quarantine.
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) recently highlighted the spotted lanternfly as a major threat to Virginia farmers.
According to the VDACS press release, this invasive insect is so dangerous to the local economy because of its voracious appetite and the crops it targets.
"Spotted Lanternfy feeds on more than 70 plant species, including grapes, apples, stone fruits, hops, and Ailanthus altissima (Tree of Heaven), which is its preferred host. It poses a threat to Virginia’s peach, apple, grape and wine industries. Spotted Lanternfly can also be a nuisance pest to homeowners when numbers are high." – VDACS press release dated May 28, 2019
The goal of the quarantine is to make sure that the spotted lanternfly is not spread beyond the area of Frederick County, Virginia, and Winchester. VDACS will spearhead this effort with mandatory training and inspections of goods moved out of the region. Businesses have a 30-day grace period to ensure compliance with the quarantine guidelines.
Businesses that transport products like plants, wood (lumber or firewood), stone, outdoor household goods, and recreational vehicles must meet VDACS requirements and undergo periodic inspections. View the full list of at-risk products included in this quarantine here.
In addition to inspecting their goods for any traces of spotted lanternflies, business owners must also complete training about this quarantine and apply for a permit to transport their products out of the affected region.
Courtesy of Penn State University
As for the general public, you can be on the lookout for the spotted lanternfly and report sightings directly to the VDACS. In its adult form, it looks like a brightly colored, spotted moth. Its nymph form is red with distinctive black limbs and white spots. This is an extremely invasive species that has already brought on quarantines in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New York.
For more information about the spotted lanternfly quarantine, including links to the business forms and requirements, visit the VDACS information page.
Is your business affected by this agricultural quarantine? Have you completed the mandatory training? Tell us about your experience with the process in the comments!