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New invasive pest, the lanternfly, causing concern in Virginia after eggs found

(Virginia Department of Agriculture)

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WSET) -- A new invasive insect has been found in the Commonwealth that could cause a lot of damage.

The invasive pest, called the Spotted Lanternfly or Lycorma delicatula, was discovered at a stone yard in January and officials say the site had previously received products from a Pennsylvania business in 2014 where the pest was first detected in the U.S.

The insect is native to Asia.

The Virginia Department of Forestry says the bugs will lay their eggs anywhere that is hard and not moving, so they said to look out for their eggs on rocks, lawn mowers, and things like picnic tables.

The pest looks like a moth in a crawling stage, but once it flies it has bright red and black under its wings.

It feeds on more than 70 plants includes grapes and stone fruits.

Department of Forestry specialist Bill Perry said this could cause damage to crops and forests.

Perry said this is also a species that is spread by the movement of firewood, since they like to lay their eggs on bark.

"If you're going camping, buy firewood locally, don't haul firewood across state lines, most states are quarantined now where you can't haul firewood now unless it's been heat treated," he said.

A lanternfly's egg mass can hold up to 30 eggs.

The one in Virginia was found in Frederick County next to a railroad track that moves rock and landscape material, so Perry said there is a good possibility that other egg masses could have traveled with it.

The Department of Agriculture and consumer services has been investigating where the shipments have gone.

If you think you see a lanterfly the Department of Forestry is asking you to contact them and they will come to eradicate it; call the Western Regional Office in Salem at 540.387.5461; call the Central Regional Office in Charlottesville, Virginia at 434.977.5193.

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