NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — An invasive insect species detected in Davidson County this week is drawing a lot of questions.
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture has confirmed a spotted lanternfly has been found in Davidson County. The finding makes Tennessee the 16th state to detect the insect since it was first discovered in Pennsylvania in 2014.
“It can come here in many ways. A lot of times it’s unintentional. We can bring agriculture material; it can come with shipping containers; sometimes they’re hitchhiking,” said Dr. Kaushalya Amarasekare, an associate professor of entomology in Tennessee State University’s College of Agriculture.
Officials said the state entomologist and plant certification section staff are studying spotted lanternfly samples, carrying out surveillance, and conducting research on the insects. Research and study teams will include entomologists from TSU’s College of Agriculture, who were invited to participate.
“We all get together and find a way to handle this situation, so hopefully our Tennesseans will not be affected that bad,” said Amarasekare.
Adult spotted lanternflies, which are plant hoppers, emerge in late summer and early fall and are nearly one inch long and one-half an inch wide. Their favored hosts are ornamental trees, like poplar and maple, as well as grape vines and fruit trees. Those studying the insects said it’s a problem, considering Tennessee is currently battling other invasive insects that feed on the same things.
“We should be very concerned and anytime an invasive species comes to a country or to a specific location, we have to be very cautious. We have to educated about them, and in the long run, we should understand how to protect them,” said Amarasekare.