WASHINGTON - When you're picking out your Christmas tree this holiday season, you'd better check twice.
Experts at Virginia Tech are warning that while the invasive lanternfly is currently confined to a small section of Virginia, it could spread - and it may lay its eggs in Christmas trees.
The lanternfly was initially detected in Virginia in January 2018. Before that, the invasive pest was discovered in Pennsylvania in 2014.
"We have so much to learn about this new pest," said Eric Day, an urban and forest insects expert at Virginia Tech.
Although it doesn't feed on Christmas trees, it can use them to spread.
And it has the potential to be a serious pest of agriculture and home gardens in Virginia, according to Virginia Tech experts.
To see if your tree is infested, check for a black sooty mold on the trunk.
The egg masses are about an inch-and-a-half long, and they are usually on small diameter branches, according to Day.
Although they're most common on tree-of-heaven, they can be on other hosts, including crab apple, locust, walnut, and conifers like Christmas trees.
Additional details are available from Virginia Tech.