Have You Seen Me? Dangers of the Spotted Lanternfly

By Arbor Artist

Today we want to talk about invasive pests and what to watch out for so we can (hopefully) fight these pests off before they destroy entire species and/or our local economy. We think everyone in Loudoun County has seen the damage to our Ash tree population from the Emerald Ash Borer (Emeral Ash Borer (VCE)). Sadly, EAB is not the only threat.

Let’s start with some basic definitions before we get to the most troubling pests affecting out region.

Invasive: tending to spread especially in a quick or aggressive manner: such as

  • of a nonnative organism: growing and dispersing easily usually to the detriment of native species and ecosystems

Pest: something resembling a pest in destructiveness; especially : a plant or animal detrimental to humans or human concerns (such as agriculture or livestock production): one that pesters or annoys (nuisance)

Combine the two and you get the following; Invasive species are non-native weeds, insect pests and other organisms introduced intentionally or accidentally by people who move them from their native range.

So what species are threatening Virginia? More than we care to think about. For a complete list you can check out the Virginia Invasive Species website (Virginia Invasive Species).

The pest that is concerning us the most is the Spotted Lanternfly (Spotted Lanternfly (VCE)) which has recently been identified “in our backyard” in Frederick County, VA.

Its favorite foods are grapes, peaches, hops and various other trees. This bug has devastated crops throughout Pennsylvania and we need to stop it from spreading here. The effect on our local breweries and wineries could be unrecoverable! Please keep in mind you may start seeing nymphs earlier this year due to the spring-like temperatures we have been experiencing lately.

If you see this pest – try to capture it (good luck, they jump) or take the best quality picture possible AND report it immediately to your local Virginia Cooperative Extension office! They will confirm identification.

So what can you do help minimize the threat of the Spotted Lanternfly? After a few years dealing with this pest, the Pennsylvania Cooperative Extension has some suggestions included here (Guide to Spotted Lanternfly Controls).

Now, we would not want you to think that is the only threat to our trees. There are others that are not here yet but Virginia has a very suitable habitat for them if they make it this far. The next possible problem pest is the Asian Longhorned Beetle or ALB (ALB-Hungry Pests) which could seriously impact hardwood trees. Currently it has been confirmed in New York, Ohio and Massachusetts.

Of course, not all pests are bugs or insects. There are countless invasive species of plants in the United States too! Invasive plants tend to fall under the category of “introduced intentionally” because they were brought here by someone who  thought those species would be pretty, fragrant, fast growing, and any other number of reasons. One of the worst of the invasive plants is the Ailanthus altissima or Tree-of-Heaven (Tree-of-Heaven). Chances are you have one somewhere on your property.

So now that we have your attention – take this newfound knowledge and put it to use. Go outside, look around your property and get comfortable with what it looks like now and during each season. If we don’t pay attention when our trees are healthy; we cannot hope to notice when there is a problem. Like an invasive pest that is going to destroy the tree you planted when your child was born, or the beautiful view of the forested hillside that you built your house to enjoy. Maybe it will just be a septic backup when the Tree-of-Heaven in your yard breaks through your underground pipes.

If “knowing is half the battle,” then acting on that knowledge is the other half!

Thanks for joining us again. Next time, perhaps something less ominous! Maybe some basics of pruning? Please let us know what topics are of interest to you by commenting below or on our webpage.

Until then, if you would like to have one of our ISA Certified Arborists come out to your home to evaluate your trees; feel free to call the office and talk to Christine about scheduling an appointment. Be sure to mention that you read this Pest ID Post! Take care!

arborartist@gmail.com – 703.777.8806 – www.arborartistinc.com

[Ask The Expert is a promotional program sponsored by Loudoun Now. The writers have held out that they have experience, training, education and/or certifications to qualify as experts in their fields. Although shared on Loudoun Now‘s online platforms, the writers are solely responsible for this content.]

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