West Virginians Urged to Watch for Spotted Lanternflies

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginians are being told to be on the lookout for an invasive insect.

The state Department of Agriculture says in a news release that a small population of the spotted lanternfly was detected in the Eastern Panhandle community of Bunker Hill last month.

The insects are devastating to trees and crops such as grapes and hops. They lay eggs in the fall on surfaces including vehicles, firewood, outdoor furniture and campers. That allows them to hitch a ride to new areas.

Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt says protecting the fruit orchards and wineries in the Eastern Panhandle is a concern.

The agency says landowners should inspect their property for lanternfly egg masses. The insect is native to China and likely arrived in North America on goods imported from Asia.