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Spotted lanternfly eggs found attached to an art installation headed for California’s wine country


This spring, spotted lanternfly eggs were found attached to an art installation headed for California's wine country. California's first known sighting of the invasive species raised a red flag for the state's lucrative wine industry.


The lanternfly is so infamous, it was even parodied on "Saturday Night Live."


BOWEN YANG: (As character) I'm a spotted lanternfly. I don't care what experts say. I'm going to eat your crops.


FADEL: Fish and Wildlife officials suspect the lanternfly came to the U.S. a decade ago, as ride-alongs on imported goods from Asia. Today, it's been spotted in 18 states, mostly along the East Coast.

MARTIN: Have you seen one? The adults are about an inch long, gray with black spots, and in flight, they reveal dramatic red-and-black speckled wings.

MICHAEL RAUPP: Yeah. The spotted lanternfly is a drop-dead-gorgeous insect.

FADEL: Known as the Bug Guy, entomologist Michael Raupp has been chasing invasive species for 40 years.

RAUPP: These particular insects are what we call sucking insects. That means they have a hypodermic-like mouth part that they insert into the plant and suck the sap of the plant.

MARTIN: While lanternflies feed on more than 100 different plant species, Raupp says they really like grape vines.

RAUPP: They have the potential to cause severe economic damage on many, many different types of crops, and they're spreading very rapidly.

MARTIN: That's a big risk for California's vineyards, which produce 80% of all American wines.

RANDY HEINZEN: Spotted lanternfly represents a terrifying threat to our wine grape industry.

FADEL: Randy Heinzen is the president of Vineyard Professional Services, a vineyard management company in California.

HEINZEN: Seeing what it's done to wine grapes and apples and other crops on the East Coast, we recognize that if it were to get established here in California, it would be devastating to our local wine grape growers and to the quality that we've come to expect from our farms.

FADEL: Heinzen says the most important thing right now is for Californians to learn how to identify the pest.

HEINZEN: We call it the snap it, snag it and report it method, so if you see a largish black or red bug that eventually develops these beautiful mothlike wings, capture it, net it or otherwise contain it, take a picture of it, and then report it to the California Department of Food and Ag, or to your local ag commissioner is probably the easiest and fastest way.

MARTIN: And if you want to keep enjoying that good California wine, the USDA also recommends, after you do all that, smash it.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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