Officials warn of invasive lanternfly

Officials warn of invasive lanternfly
Published: Jul. 6, 2022 at 7:25 PM EDT
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N.C. (WITN) - Officials want you to keep an eye out for spotted lanternflies.

The insects aren’t from the U.S. and could do serious damage to certain crops. They’re black with white spots in the spring and summer and turn red as they get older.

No lanternflies have been reported in Eastern Carolina yet. The closest report is from Kernersville and a five-mile radius around it.

Lanternflies are especially dangerous to grape vines.

“This insect poses a great threat to our wine and grape industry. It’s been documented to cause as much as a 90% reduction in grapes when it’s discovered in there. So our primary purpose is to be on the lookout for it,” Pitt County Extension Agent Mitch Smith said.

If you see something that looks like a lanternfly, you should report it to your county extension office.

“We treat this invasive pest as one that can spread rapidly, so what’s important is to identify it early and to act accordingly to try to control it,” Smith said. “And the plant protection industry within the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and the North Carolina Forest Service is acting right now to try and control that.”

Another thing to keep an eye out for is dripping sap. Officials say it pops up in areas where lanternflies have been feeding. It might also have a fermented smell that attracts other bugs like bees and flies.

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