Animals Wow!

Loudoun County: Insect egg sacs hiding in Christmas trees

Loudoun County officials sent out an alert Tuesday.

The Burn doesn’t usually share agricultural news, but if the thought of a gross insect egg sac sneaking into your home is alarming, you’ll want to check out the alert sent out by Loudoun County officials today.

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“If you purchased a Christmas tree that was not grown in Loudoun County, officials ask that you examine the tree to look for egg masses of the spotted lanternfly; an invasive insect that can affect agricultural and ornamental plants.”

“Adult spotted lanternflies die at the onset of winter; however, their egg masses can survive below-zero temperatures. Egg masses typically include 30 to 50 jellybean-shaped eggs in neat rows covered by a waxy substance that looks like mud. The egg masses can accumulate on tree trunks and other surfaces from the fall to early spring when they hatch.”

Image: Penn State University

“‘We would like anyone who finds spotted lanternfly egg masses to take a photo and send the photo to us through our online form at loudoun.gov/spottedlanternfly. Then, destroy the eggs by scraping the eggs into a (baggie) with alcohol,’ said Beth Sastre, a horticulturist with the Virginia Cooperative Extension, Loudoun County.”

Image: Virginia Cooperative Extension

“Sastre advises residents to be aware that there could also be beneficial insects, such as praying mantises, that may lay eggs on trees and the eggs look similar to the spotted lanternfly. She advises that mantis eggs should be taken outside so that they can hatch in the warm weather and eat unwanted insects.”

“Sastre recommends that residents who are considering buying a Christmas tree purchase a tree from one of the many local Christmas tree growers in Loudoun because the spotted lanternfly has not been detected in Loudoun. The insect has been discovered in nearby Frederick and Clark Counties in Virginia, as well as West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and New York.”

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So there you have it. Look past your baubles, lights and tinsel and check your tree for invading insects. Merry Christmas.

(Photo at top: Greg Hoover)

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