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Invasive spotted lanternfly sighting confirmed in North Carolina

Spotted lanternfly in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Caitlyn Johnstone
/
Chesapeake Bay Program
Above, a spotted lanternfly visits a log in Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area in Lancaster County, Pa., on Oct. 5, 2018.

A population of an invasive fly from Asia has been discovered in North Carolina, confirming a prediction from agriculture experts that it was only a matter of time before the potentially destructive pest reached the state.

Late last month, the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service announced an infestation of the spotted lanternfly in Kernersville, just east of Winston-Salem. According to a news release from N.C. State University, the infestation covers a 5-mile (8 km)-radius, suggesting it’s likely been there for a couple of years before it was reported.

The first U.S. sighting of the spotted lanternfly was in Pennsylvania in 2014, the news release said. Since then, it has since been found in nine other states in New England and the Midwest. In late 2021, an infestation was found near the Virginia-North Carolina state line.

During heavy infestations, the spotted lanternfly may kill grapevines, and mating swarms may disrupt events at vineyards. It feeds on more than 100 species of plants, including hops, fruit trees and native trees. It is also attracted to popular plants used for landscaping around homes and businesses.

Spotted lanternflies are native to China, India and Vietnam, N.C. State reports.

For more photos of the fly at different development stages, head to the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service's spotted lanternfly resource page.

If you think you've spotted the invasive lanternfly in North Carolina, the state agriculture department asks that you take a photo — ideally with a size reference like a quarter — and send it to badbug@ncagr.gov. When submitting a photo, include the location of the sighting, date, and your contact information.

WUNC's Laura Pellicer contributed to this report.

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