BERRYVILLE — The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will expand its spotted lanternfly quarantine to Clarke and Warren counties in mid-March.
That means businesses in those counties will have to comply with special permitting and shipping requirements.
Frederick County and Winchester are the only localities already under the quarantine.
The spotted lanternfly (scientific name Lycorma delicatula) is an invasive species that is destructive to trees, crops and other plantings.
Although their favorite food is Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima), spotted lanternflies also feed on grapes, peaches, apples, maples, walnuts, hops, cucumbers and basil, according to David Gianino, program manager for the VDACS Office of Plant Industry Services.
“From an economic perspective, this pest can wreak havoc on our local wineries, fruit and produce farmers, not to mention many others,” said Felicia Hart, Clarke County’s director of economic development and tourism.
Spotted lanternflies originally are from Asia. Scientists believe they made their way from there to Pennsylvania in 2014 on a delivery of ornamental stone, then began spreading as the landscaping material was distributed elsewhere.
In January 2018, the insect was discovered in Frederick County. It was just the second time the species had been detected in the United States, Gianino said.
Pesticide treatments and the quarantine have slowed the spread of spotted lanternflies. However, VDACS surveys show lanternflies have established themselves in Clarke and Warren, too, Gianino said, hence the need to extend the quarantine to those counties to try and keep the insects from spreading further.
Under the quarantine, businesses will have to obtain a permit showing they are taking steps to guarantee their shipments are free of lanternflies.
Businesses must participate in an online training course, then apply to VDACS for a permit. The state agency will host virtual meetings via WebEx from 9-10 a.m. Feb. 22 and from 2-3 p.m. Feb. 23 to detail the process. For more information on how to take part, go online to go online to https://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/plant-industry-services.shtml or call 804-920-5558 or 804-786-3515.
According to a VDACS release, affected businesses include ones shipping:
• Live or dead trees, nursery stock, green lumber, firewood, logs, perennial plants, garden plants, produce, stumps, branches, mulch, composted or uncomposted chips, bark or yard waste.
• Outdoor industrial or construction materials or equipment, concrete barriers or structures, stone (including ornamental stone), quarry material or concrete, or construction, landscaping or remodeling wastes.
• Shipping containers, such as wooden crates or boxes.
• Outdoor household articles, including recreational vehicles, lawn tractors or mowers, grills, grill or furniture covers, tarps, mobile home, tile, stone or deck boards.
The quarantine applies to any equipment, trucks or vehicles not stored indoors, as well as any means of conveyance used for moving something, whether it be a vehicle, trailer or wagon, the release indicates.
Basically, it applies to “any businesses that transport (items) across county lines,” said Hart. Spotted lanternflies also can be a nuisance to homeowners when present in high numbers, as has been observed in Winchester. They excrete a sticky waste called “honeydew” that, as it builds up on a surface, turns into a black fungal growth covering anything it comes into contact with, including plant leaves, vehicles and lawn furniture.
To help control the spread of lanternflies, Virginia Cooperative Extension officials suggest that landowners remove Trees of Heaven on their properties and apply insecticides such as carbaryl, bifenthrin or pyrethrin to hardwood trees. They also recommend that people squash individual or small numbers of lanternflies they see.