Home Expert: Invasive insect threatening to impact Virginia’s grape and wine industry

Expert: Invasive insect threatening to impact Virginia’s grape and wine industry

spotted lanternfly egg masses
Images courtesy Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

An invasive insect is threatening Virginia’s grape and wine industries in part because it colonizes quickly and disrupts native ecosystems.

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech and the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services are partnering to empower residents of the Commonwealth to act themselves if they see the destructive spotted lanternfly.

“We need to prevent spotted lanternfly from going somewhere else and becoming a bigger problem,” said Eric Day, manager of the Insect ID Lab in the Department of Entomology. “Make sure it does not move on vehicles or plants and remove and squish any you find.”

Day said he has been impressed with the citizens of Virginia and their efforts to reduce the impact of the spotted lanternfly.

“Active citizens and businesses in quarantine areas have helped slow spread significantly,” Day said. “Now, to stop this insect from becoming a bigger problem, we must take action to make sure this hitchhiking insect doesn’t get any free rides through our state.”

Take action

Late spring and early summer

  • Look for the immature stages and control them early on grapes or in backyards
  • Look in your backyard for the spotted lanternfly’s favorite host tree – the tree of heaven. If possible, remove those trees as they function as a host that enables the insect to spread further and quicker.


  • Check car wheel wells, boat trailers or box trucks for the lanternfly
spotted lanternfly
The spotted lanternfly will emerge from from its egg stage in mid- to late April to feed on a wide range of fruit, ornamental and woody trees, and vines. Photo by Theresa Dellinger for Virginia Tech.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.