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Spotted Lanternfly invasion gets closer to West Virginia and has area extension agents concerned

By SCOTT McCLOSKEY

The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register

The spotted lanternfly doesn’t pose a danger to humans or animals, but is know to weaken or kill fruit crops and timbering trees.
(Submitted photo)

WHEELING, W.Va.  — An insect known to weaken or kill a wide range of fruit crops and timbering trees grown in this region of the country is causing concern among those in the agricultural and timbering communities in eastern Pennsylvania and other regions where it could spread, according to Karen Cox, West Virginia University Extension agent in Ohio County.

While the newly invasive insect, known as the “Spotted Lanternfly” (ycorma delicatula) doesn’t sting or bite or present a danger to people or animals, it does have the potential to cause harm. If allowed to spread in the United States, it could impact the country’s fruit, ornamental and forest industries, according to officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

While the lanternfly still has not been known to occur in West Virginia, it has been confirmed in 13 counties in southeastern Pennsylvania and as close to the Mountain State as Winchester, Virginia, a community located 15 miles from Martinsburg, according to Cox. She said the insect is causing great concern to anyone associated with the agriculture and timbering communities as it sucks sap from stems and branches, which can weaken and damage trees and plants. This feeding also leaves behind a sticky, sugary residue called honeydew that attracts other insects and promotes the growth of sooty mold, which can further damage a plant.

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