A threat to North Carolina’s wineries and nurseries

The spotted lanternfly is an invasive insect that could devastate North Carolina’s wine industry and nurseries. The insect has already been found in Forsyth County, and experts believe it’s only a matter of time before it spreads to other parts of the state.

Two black Labrador retrievers, Gus and Kita, are being trained to sniff out spotted lanternflies. Dogs are already being used to search for insects at airports, train stations and other transport hubs.

“It can show up anywhere just because it’s a good delivery vehicle,” said Jackie Freddio, N.C. Department of Agriculture.

Spotted lanternflies are attracted to tree sap and can quickly destroy entire orchards and vineyards. They also produce a sticky substance called honeydew, which can attract mold and other pests.

“It travels by cars, trucks and trains, and we had a report in Asheville showing that it was planted here from lawn furniture,” said Chad Taylor, N.C. Department of Agriculture. “So you lay eggs on everything and anything.”

It could destroy the state’s important agricultural industries, such as wineries, apple orchards and nurseries. It feeds on more than 70 species of plants.

“It’s more dangerous to plants than to humans,” Fredio said. “It won’t bite you or sting you or anything like that.”

This insect can kill roses, hydrangeas or hardwoods in some backyards. It can also spread a sticky mess, like aphids, which leads to black mold, mildew and other environmental hazards.

Chad, Gus, Jackie, and Keita train constantly because of this.

Fredeo trains her dog by taking him to work with her every day. They look at places where people may have traveled, such as campgrounds, parks and rest stops. This includes places where vacationers and truck drivers may be present.

“It’s very rewarding for me to see her doing her job and actually making a difference,” Fredio said.

Taylor is also thrilled to be working with Goose as a team.

“It’s absolutely the best part of my job,” Taylor said. “To ride a dog with you. It’s wonderful. It really is.”

Traveling at this time of year to see the leaves change could make you a carrier of the spotted lanternfly.

The Ministry of Agriculture created pens with a drawing of the spotted lantern.

These pens are intended to help people identify the insect so they can report any sightings.

If someone sees a spotted fly, it is important for them to know that they should kill it and report it by sending an email to badbug@ncagr.gov

Here are some additional tips to help you prevent the spread of spotted lanternfly:

  • Check your vehicles for egg masses before traveling.
  • Check your plants for signs of infection.
  • Destroy any masses of spotted lanternfly eggs or insects you find.
  • Report any spotted lanternfly sightings to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture.
  • By taking these steps, we can help protect North Carolina’s wine industry and nurseries from this destructive insect.
    (tags for translation)insects

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