An invasive species of flying insects from Asia has been spotted in North Carolina.
According to a release from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the invasive spotted lanternfly has been detected in the state. Reports indicated that the infestation covers an approximately 5-miles radius in Kernersville near Interstate 40 and extending to the Guilford County line.
Spotted lanternfly — native to China, India and Vietnam — was first seen in the U.S. in 2014 after being identified in Pennsylvania, per WSOC. Heavy infestation could potentially pose a threat to the state's wine and grape industries as the species feeds on more than 100 species of plants, including grapevines, fruit crops and landscape plants.
"We have been actively looking for this pest for years and had ramped up surveillance when it was detected last year near the North Carolina-Virginia line," said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. "Members of our Plant Industry Division and the N.C. Forest Service are moving quickly to eradicate this brightly colored pest, and we ask members of the public to be on the lookout for more spotted lanternfly and report any finds."
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the insect's spotted wings are held tent-like over its back, covering a bright red set of second wings that can't be seen when it's at rest.
If you see a spotted lanternfly, you are encouraged to file a report with the N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services here. Any questions or concerns regarding the species or the reporting form can be directed to the department's Plant Industry Division at 919-707-3730.