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Beautiful, colorful, and dangerous: Lanternfly sighted in Northern Virginia

A lanternfly was recently found in a shipment of produce at a local grocery store in Annandale, Va., Fairfax County officials say.

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. — Spotted lanternflies may seem beautiful on the outside, but the invasive species native to Southeast Asia eats and destroys crops from apples and hops to wine grapes. Now, they are in Northern Virginia.

A dead lanternfly was recently found in a shipment of produce at a local grocery store in Annandale, Va., Fairfax officials said. The species of pest has been found in locations across the United States since 2018, including Northern Virginia.

Insect experts and wildlife officials say, "Any spotted lanternflies you detect should be killed immediately, as they can cause serious damage to home and commercial gardens."

There is currently a spotted lanternfly quarantine in effect in the City of Winchester as well as Frederick, Clarke and Warren counties. Officials said the quarantine is necessary to slow the spread of this insect to un-infested areas of Virginia. Businesses in the quarantined areas are required to obtain state permits and inspect regulated articles to ensure that these articles do not contain any life stage of the spotted lanternfly.

Spotted lanternflies have been confirmed in Loudoun County, and dead adults have been found in Annandale in Northern...

Posted by Virginia Cooperative Extension - Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia on Thursday, September 23, 2021

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However, Fairfax County confirms there have been no confirmed detections of living lanternflies infesting crops or gardens as of yet.

The peach, apple, grape and wine industries in Virginia are threatened most by the spotted lanternfly. Naturally, harvesters are on a keen lookout for signs of spotted lanternflies throughout their harvest seasons.

To look out for these destructive pests, adults begin laying eggs in October and through the first few hard touches of frost. The egg masses are covered in a light gray colored wax that looks like mud when it dries.

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