Spotted lanternfly has Virginia vineyards, farmers concerned

D.C. area residents may already have seen the spotted lanternfly – with its distinctive spots and black, white, reddish marking. But experts are issuing serious warnings about this invasive species.

READ MORE: First Maryland spotted lanternfly hatch of 2020 identified

The bug isn’t dangerous to people, but it’s already killed off two vineyards in Pennsylvania.

The species is now growing at the fringes of the D.C. metropolitan area- with infestations in Virginia’s Frederick and Winchester counties.

Brian Roeder – owner of  Barrel Oak Winery right off Rt. 66 – says the Winchester infestation has him concerned.

READ MORE: Authorities confirm first sighting of spotted lanternfly in Maryland

"As farmers, we’re used to these pets coming in. This one’s particularly unfortunately and a real cause for concern. It spreads a fungus as it attacks the vines. It also attacks hops, and we also attack hops and we also grow them here on site. So there is a risk we could have vine death and hop death which is really is when it gets expensive," Roeder said.

Roeder says the harvest is already underway at Barrel Oak Winery – but the Spotted Lanternfly could present problems for them next year.

University of Maryland Professor Michael Raupp says the Lanternflies basically suck the nutrients from plants and excrete a sugary liquid called honeydew – that rains down on everything below. 

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That liquid grows the fungus that disfigures your crop.

Bees and wasps are attracted to the sugary liquid. The spotted lanternflies target crops like apples, peaches, corn and soybeans – which means many farms are facing a threat.

If you see a spotted lanternfly, experts say you should kill it first, then report it to the agriculture department in Virginia.

Maryland has an online reporting portal where you can alert officials about the pests.

Raupp says the eggs are hard to see, but they’ve traced it to a shipping container from China that had masonry products inside, going to Burks County, Pennsylvania in 2014.