CLEVELAND — A population of invasive spotted lanternfly, known for its affinity for grapevines, fruit trees and other plants that have economic value, has been spotted on the east side of Cleveland in Cuyahoga County, according to the Ohio Department of Agriculture(ODA).
A tree care professional alerted the ODA on Aug. 26 to the spotted lanternfly. ODA plant pest inspectors confirmed the sightings of living, adult spotted lanternfly (SLF) in the area. An inspector with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service also confirmed the presence of an SLF population at a secondary location.
A railroad line connects both locations, ODA said. The exact location was not released by officials.
The presence of SLF causes great concern for fruit-producing plants, particularly grapevines, fruit trees, hops, blueberry, oak, pine, poplar and walnut.
Ohio is the sixth-largest wine producer in the United States, contributing more than $1 billion to the state's economy every year. More than 250 wineries across the state employ thousands of people.
Much of it could be negatively impacted if the spotted lanternfly goes unchecked.
Last year, News 5 spoke to local wineries about the threat of the SLF. Read the in-depth story here.
The SLF uses its piercing-sucking mouth part to feed on sap from over 70 different species. Its strong preference for economically important plants is something that should concern all Ohioans, as the feeding damage significantly stresses the plants, which can lead to decreased health and potentially death.
Both adults and nymphs feed on a wide range of hosts, like stems and leaves, causing sap bleeding and reduced photosynthesis.
ODA officials say the public is that first line of defense in the fight against SLF. Now through November is the best time to spot them because the SPL is in its most recognizable stage as a colorful winged adult plant hopper.
After hatching in late spring, it goes through four nymph stages. By midsummer, the nymph can be identified by its red body, with black stripes and white dots. When late summer comes around until roughly November, the SLF is in the adult stage.
If you believe you have seen an SLF in your area, you can easily report a suspected infestation by going to ODA’s Spotted Lanternfly Information Page and filling out a suspected infestation report. You may also call the Plant Pest Control Division at 614-728-6400.
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