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Spotted lanternfly is invasive and could ruin your plants

This pesky insect was just spotted in Kernersville, NC, and could ruin dozens of plant species. If you see one, squash it!

NORTH CAROLINA, USA — The North Carolina Department of Agriculture said the invasive spotted lanternfly poses a serious threat to the state's wine and grape industries. 

Groups of them have been spotted in Forsyth County, according to the NC Dept of AG. 

These critters aren't dangerous to humans or animals but they are known to cause damage to more than 70 species of plants while they feast on them, including apples, roses, and other landscape plants.

"While they are doing that, they secrete a product called honeydew. The honeydew drops down, and lots of insects do this, but it creates a very sticky substance under heavily infested trees it’s almost like it’s raining down. This honeydew, all of this becomes very sticky, and it attracts stinging insects and then afterward the sticky substance grows sooty mold,” said Plant Pest Administrator with the N.C. Department of Agriculture, Joy Goforth. 

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This pest has been spreading rapidly across the nation since it was first identified in the U.S.

Since a concentrated amount of lanternflies were found in the state, the NC Dept of AG they're going to continue to monitor the area to see if there are any more pests swarming in the state. They are also planning to treat the affected areas before females begin to lay eggs. 

The department said they even brought in trained, egg-sniffing K-9s to help.

Credit: Amber Lake

These pests are also attracted to the invasive plant, Tree of Heaven. That's where they like to eat and lay their eggs. It’s more like the tree of death for these little guys. That’s because, in order for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture to reduce the population of the pests, they are treating its favorite meal.

“It’s a spray that we put on the bark, it’s called a basil spray. The tree actually takes it up and moves it through the entire system of the plant. Then, when the spotted lanternfly feeds on this invasive tree, it will kill them from feeding,” said Goforth.

“We have been actively looking for this pest for years and had ramped up surveillance when it was detected last year near the North Carolina-Virginia line,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Members of our Plant Industry Division and N.C. Forest Service is moving quickly to eradicate this brightly colored pest, and we ask members of the public to be on the lookout for more spotted [lanternflies] and report any finds.”

If you see a suspect spotted lanternfly in North Carolina submit a picture through the online reporting tool.

N.C. Agriculture Department said most insecticides will do the trick but you better act fast! The Spotted Lanternfly is said to spread and swarm as the end of summer nears. 

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