Invasive insect is now in Kentucky

Invasive insect is now in Kentucky
Published: Oct. 25, 2023 at 4:00 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 25, 2023 at 4:01 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The spotted lanternfly has made headlines since its arrival in the United States back in 2014.

Now, after traveling down from Pennsylvania, the invasive pest has officially made it into the Bluegrass.

UK Extension Entomologist Jonathon Larson is a part of the team that works to track and identify these bugs and help with informing the public on pest management.

In October, the Office of the State Entomologist in Kentucky was called to confirm one of these sightings.

“In this case, we have an infestation where there is multiple life stages present. In our Kentucky situation, there were multiple adults on trees, and they were laying eggs. So that officially establishes us as infested,” said Larson.

The fly originally infiltrated into the US through Pennsylvania but now has made its way to 15 states, including Kentucky, across the eastern portion of the United States.

The spotting in Kentucky was in Gallatin County near Sparta.

“It could have an impact on things like the vineyard industry. It will definitely, as the population builds, impact people’s enjoyment of parks and their backyards. They love a willow tree, a maple tree, all kinds of these ornamental plants that we grow,” said Larson. “And when they infest these properties, you will get hundreds into even thousands of them. And it’s just really kind of annoying for these people. "

While lantern flies are annoying, officials are encouraging folks to stop and take a picture before they squish.

“We want people to report this. We have an email explicitly set up for this, It’s for all invasive species you are concerned about. We need that to be able to verify these things, keep track of it, and report things to the federal government,” Larson said.