Swarms of invasive fly found in North Carolina can disrupt outdoor events, state says

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A garish invasive fly from Asia has been discovered in North Carolina for the first time and it could be big trouble for the state’s agriculture and tourism industries, experts say.

The spotted lanternfly is known to “attack hops, fruit trees, and many ornamental plants,” and “mating swarms” can become large enough to overwhelm outdoor events such as weddings and tours, N.C. State University Extension reports.

“Initial surveys indicate the known distribution of the pest is within a 5-mile radius in Forsyth County near Interstate 40 in Kernersville extending to the Guilford County line,” the N.C. Department of Agriculture said in a June 29 news release.

“Treatments” in the region were planned last week “before mated females begin laying eggs,” the state said. Details of the preventative efforts were not released.

Surveys for additional infestations in the region are ongoing, and the state is asking the public to report sightings via Apps.ncagr.gov.

Officials have anticipated the arrival of the flies since last year, when an infestation was detected in Virginia near the North Carolina state line.

“Spotted lanternfly poses a serious threat to the state’s wine and grape industries and can feed and cause damage on over 70 species of plants including apples, roses and other landscape plants,” the state reports.

The flies are attracted to popular plants used for landscaping around homes and businesses “causing aggravation among those who encounter it,” N.C. State reports. They are also known to “cause oozing” from trees, experts say.

Spotted lanternflies are native to China, India and Vietnam and were first detected in Pennsylvania in 2014, N.C. State reports. The pest has since spread to eight additional states in New England and the Midwest, experts say.

It is believed the flies “arrived via imported goods, likely as an egg mass ... adhered to stone products,” officials say.

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