Invasive Insect ‘Spotted Lanternfly’ Found in Out-of-State Shipment to Rutland, Vermont
Vermont Agencies investigating to determine level of concern, impact and potential response
On Thursday, August 19th the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) was alerted that a live ‘Spotted Lanternfly’ was captured on a shipment delivered in Rutland. Recognizing the insects as unusual, at the time of delivery the insects were either killed or captured, and one live sample was delivered to officials for identification. At this time, no other evidence of the insects has been discovered by responding Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation (FPR) officials, or VAAFM staff.
The follow-up to this discovery includes treatment of the shipment and placement of traps in the area where the truck was unloaded and checking them every two weeks. VAAFM staff with assistance from FPR have conducted a survey of ¼ mile radius from ground zero, concentrating on locating and searching host trees such as walnuts, willow, and tree of heaven.
Please note that the location and immediate eradication of this pest represent a regulatory incident, and is considered resolved. “While this is a concerning discovery and we take this development very seriously, we also have no knowledge that this indicates a larger problem in Vermont at this time,” said Cary Giguere, Director of Plant Health and Agriculture Resource Management at VAAFM. “We will take all the steps necessary to determine how large a problem this might be, but what’s more important is that people keep their eyes open for this invasive and destructive insect, and let us know immediately if you find any…even as few as one.”
This insect is attracted to the Tree of Heaven. If this is a tree in your landscape, please be vigilant and check for this insect. If you see this pest, please notify the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, the Vermont Department of Forest, Parks and Recreation or www.vtinvasives.org . The state response to an invasive insect is a cooperative effort between the public and state officials, which this incident has highlighted.
Department of Forest, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Michael Snyder said, “A suspected spotted lanternfly was brought to the Forestry Building at the Rutland State Fair on August 17 for identification. The Forestry Building is a cooperative effort put forth by the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, US Forest Service/Green Mountain National Forest, Audubon Vermont, consulting foresters and forest product companies. The insect was captured by a Vermonter who was concerned it may be an invasive pest and was positively identified as spotted lanternfly on Aug. 18th. We count on all Vermonters to be our eyes and ears for the detection of exotic invasive species. All the outreach and education has paid off and we thank Vermonters for remaining vigilant.”
Originally from China, the Spotted Lanternfly (SLF) is a colorful, eye-catching invasive insect that was first detected in Pennsylvania in 2014. Despite efforts to contain SLF within PA, it has been established in eight other states including CT, NY, NJ, DE, MD, VA, WV and OH. Agricultural fruit crops such as grape, apple, cherry and peach are all susceptible to damage caused by spotted lanternfly, as well as economically valuable hardwood trees including maple, oak and walnut species. The invasive ‘tree of heaven’ is the preferred host plant of the pest when it is present but unfortunately, SLF also feeds on over 70 different plant species.
Adult spotted lanternflies are about one-inch long. Adults have grey wings with black spots. When the spotted lanternfly’s wings are spread, it exposes a bright red underwing. Keeping an eye out for this insect could help prevent its damaging impacts:
- Learn how to identify spotted lanternfly in its various life stages and how to distinguish its preferred host, tree-of-heaven or Ailanthus, from beneficial native species such as sumacs and black walnut.
- If you visit a known Spotted Lanternfly infested area, inspect your vehicle carefully to make sure you aren’t driving an egg mass back to Vermont with you.
- If you think you’ve found either spotted lanternfly or tree-of-heaven report it to www.Vtinvasives.org so we can follow up.