WSDA On The Lookout For Potentially Destructive Pest

Photo: Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture

The Washington State Department of Agriculture is asking the farming and non-farming community to keep an eye out for a potentially destructive pest. The Department said the spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) may have been observed in the Omak region recently, but entomologists could not confirm that report. Spotted lanternfly (SLF), a native to Asia, attacks primarily grapes, but also has been sighted in other crops such as hops, apples, peach, and other fruit trees.

“Our search revealed abundant host material in the area,” Sven Spichiger, WSDA managing entomologist said. “For the next several weeks, we ask people to look for both adults and egg masses. If they think they found any suspected life stage of the pest, they should report it.”   

WSDA said should it become established in Washington, spotted lanternfly could threaten many of the state’s iconic crops and result in costly quarantines and increased pesticide use to manage the pest.

The unconfirmed report comes during a month when WISC, WSDA, and other state agencies have been requesting that the public report tree-of-heaven locations as part of an effort to proactively locate and remove this preferred host of the spotted lanternfly. The outreach also encouraged the public to look for and report possible SLF sightings, although SLF populations are not known to be in the state at this time. SLF poses no threat to human or animal health.

Although the unconfirmed report does not indicate that an SLF population exists in Washington at this time, WSDA plans to survey the area for the pest in 2022. Because it is too late to survey this year, public aid in looking for and reporting possible sightings now could provide critical information about the pest’s whereabouts. A rapid response is required to successfully eradicate SLF if a population exists.

When reporting possible SLF sightings, include a photograph, date, and location of the sighting and most importantly – collect the specimens. Reports can be made using WISC’s online reporting form or mobile app or by E-Mailing WSDA or by calling 1-800-443-6684. After reporting, suspect specimens and egg masses can be taken to WSU Extension offices. More information about spotted lanternfly can be found on WSDA’s website. Report tree-of-heaven locations to WISC.

Spotted lanternfly first arrived in the U.S. in 2014 in Pennsylvania. Since then, it has been spreading through several eastern states while popping up in other places throughout the country. When established in an area, it can cause potential problems for growers as well as homeowners. 

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