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This Insect Could Destroy California’s Wine Industry and Other Major Crops

An invasive insect that could severely impact the wine industry in California could arrive in the state by 2027.

Fox 5 San Diego says a new study by North Carolina State University shows the spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) could reach California in five years.

The insect comes from China and has reached 11 states in U.S. since first being discovered in Pennsylvania in 2014.

It is a big concern for grape growers and it could lead to billions of dollars of losses in the agricultural sector.

In addition to gapes, the spotted lanternfly can affect almonds, cherries, peaches, and pine trees among other tree species.

The insect kills the plants by feeding on them and leaving behind a residue known as “honeydew” that causes mold to grow.

To read the full study click here.

From the Department of Agriculture: The pest damages plants as it sucks sap from branches, stems, and tree trunks. The repeated feedings leave the tree bark with dark scars. Spotted lanternfly also excretes a sticky fluid, which promotes mold growth and further weakens plants and puts our agriculture and forests at risk. Native to Asia, the spotted lanternfly has no natural enemies in North America. it's free to multiply and ravage orchards, vineyards, and wooded areas. The invasive insect was first detected in the United States in Pennsylvania in 2014, and has now spread to several states, by people who accidentally move infested material or items containing egg masses. Most states are at risk of the pest. USDA and our state and local partners are working hard to stop the spread of this invasive pest. Look for signs of spotted lanternfly. Inspect your trees and plants for young spotted lanternfly, adults, and egg masses. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

Adult spotted lanternflies are approximately 1 inch long and one-half inch wide, and they have large and visually striking wings. Their forewings are light brown with black spots at the front and a speckled band at the rear. Their hind wings are scarlet with black spots at the front and white and black bars at the rear. Their abdomen is yellow with black bars. Nymphs in their early stages of development appear black with white spots and turn to a red phase before becoming adults. Egg masses are yellowish-brown in color, covered with a gray, waxy coating prior to hatching. Look for nymphs, adults, and eggs on trees. The Tree of Heaven is the preferred tree. Spotted lanternfly lay their eggs on a variety of smooth surfaces. Look for egg masses (which are off-white to grey and textured patches) on tree bark, vehicles, buildings, and outdoor items.

Find it, report it!

Contact your State Department of Agriculture or the Extension specialist near you to report signs of spotted lanternfly. If possible, take a picture or capture the insect in alcohol.

Visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture to learn more about the spotted lanternflies.

Photo: Lance Cheung

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