State officials say they are ramping up surveillance of the invasive spotted lanternfly, which has been detected for the first time in the state near Kernersville.

Joy Goforth is a plant pest administrator with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services. Goforth says the spotted lanternfly poses a serious threat to the state's wine and grape industries, and can also damage numerous species including apples, pears, and roses. She warns homeowners that honeydew produced by the lanternfly can attract stinging insects, and lead to objects being covered by a fungal disease known as sooty mold.

In an agricultural version of “if you see something, say something,” Goforth is urging residents to be on the lookout for the pest. 

"It's a leaf-hopper, it's about the size of your thumb, and it's grey with spots, and on the underside of their wings is a very distinctive red color," says Goforth. 

The Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services website features a reporting tool for people to submit sightings and photos.

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