DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — State officials are asking residents to keep an eye out for the spotted laternfly after recently confirming the finding of two of the invasive insects in central Iowa.
As a young nymph, it is a black weevil-like bug with white spots but adds patches of bright red as it develops into a flying insect. It's native to China, India, and Vietnam, and was accidentally introduced into Pennsylvania in 2014, according to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. It has since been confirmed in 11 states and threatens the country’s grape, orchard, nursery, and logging industries.
The state ag department was notified earlier this month of the presence of two immature spotted lanternflies in Dallas County, and federal identification confirmed them. Nearby areas surveyed have not resulted in signs of an ongoing infestation, the department said.
The insects tend to gather in large numbers on host plants and feed on a wide range of fruit, ornamental and woody trees. Spotted lanternfly prefer grapes, hops and a host of trees found in Iowa, including tree-of-heaven, apple, cherry, maple, oak, peach, pine, plum, poplar, sycamore, walnut and willow.
Anyone spotting the insect is asked to contact the department's Entomology and Plant Science Bureau.