Rare Spotted Lanternfly found in Dover

Spotted lanternfly found in Dover.

DOVER — A self described “insect nerd,” Yvonne Kirksey quickly recognized the roughly quarter-sized red and black colored winged creature lying in the parking lot Monday night.

The Delaware State News customer services specialist believed she had seen a Spotted Lanternfly while leaving from work just after 5 p.m.

“I knew what it was,” she said without a trace of doubt.

Ms. Kirksey scooped up the lifeless insect and placed it into a coin purse, then called the Delaware Department of Agriculture to report her find.

“I was excited all the way home,” Ms. Kirksey said. “I couldn’t wait for someone to call me back.”

It was after hours, and Ms. Kirksey was contacted early Tuesday afternoon with a request to email a photo.

She gladly did just that.

A few minutes later, Ms. Kirksey said, a Department of Agriculture staffer called back and reported that the bug at the very least closely resembled a spotted lanternfly. The department then came to the State News at mid-afternoon, collected the specimen for testing to determine its identity for sure.

“We have to analyze it for confirmation,” said Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Stacey Hoffmann, who noted that the state receives quite a few lookalike bugs like a Leopard Moth or other similar insects.

The Department of Agriculture said it knew of no other spotted lanternfly ever located in Kent County, but it was at least possible. I

Spotted Lanterfly

It has been officially located in New Castle County and was first discovered Berks County, Pennsylvania in 2014.

Ms. Kirksey described her discovery as “not great news but important news” because of its apparent first appearance in Central Delaware. She knows that a spotted lanternfly “can attack deciduous fruit trees, which is a problem.”

Indeed, the insect is described as an invasive, attacking plant hopper that often travels after attaching to cars or people.

According to the State of Delaware’s description online at de.gov/hitchhikerbug the spotted lanternfly is native to China, India and Vietnam that feeds on trees and plants. Willow, poplar, maple, pine, walnut and sycamore trees, among others, are susceptible to “weeping wounds, leaving a greyish or black trail across the trunk.”

Also potentially affected are growing apples, grapes, cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots, almonds, hops and plums, according to online information.

If detected, the state Ag Department said potential spotted lanternfly’s of any life stage including egg masses (they’re laid 30 to 50 at a time) can be reported by taking a photo and emailing it along with contact information and location of find to HitchHikerBug@state.de.us. For more information, call 698-4586.

“The insect is considered a threat to some crops and early detection is vital for the protection of Delaware businesses and agriculture,” according to the Department of Agriculture.


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