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PLNA e-News: Plants, Pests & Diseases

Spotted Lanternfly - Surveillance Expanded to Lehigh, Montgomery Counties

Tuesday, August 11, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Cathy Corrigan
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Harrisburg, PA - As Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture officials continue their work with federal and local partners to confirm and eradicate the invasive Spotted Lanternfly in Berks County, the state announced on July 14 that it is expanding surveillance efforts to neighboring Lehigh and Montgomery counties. While there is no indication the pest has spread, officials believe this is a prudent, precautionary measure.

The invasive species, also known as Lycorma delicatula, first appeared in the fall of 2014. To date, nearly 100,000 Spotted Lanternfly have been terminated. The United States has not experienced this invasive species prior to its discovery Berks County.

“Residents in Lehigh and Montgomery counties should be aware that they will see department surveyors in their areas looking for any signs of the Spotted Lanternfly, but should also know that the invasive species has not yet been found in either county,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “Our crews are working to look outside the current quarantine area in an effort to contain this invasive insect. We do not want residents in Lehigh or Montgomery counties to be alarmed as there aren’t any impacts to human health, and we want everyone to rest assured that we are taking the needed steps to prevent further spread.”

A quarantine has been put in place around the boroughs of Bally and Bechtelsville and the townships of District, Earl, Hereford, Pike, Rockland and Washington in Berks County. Both Lehigh and Montgomery counties are less than one mile from these areas of Berks County.

While the Spotted Lanternfly -- which is native to China, Indian, Japan Vietnam -- has no known impacts to human health, it could severely impact the state’s grape, fruit tree and hardwood industries. These industries produce sales of approximately $20.5 million, $134 million, and $24 million, respectively. Pine and hardwood logging in Pennsylvania also accounts for $12 billion in sales.

Spotted Lanternfly is an invasive species in Korea, where it has attacked 25 plant species that also grow in Pennsylvania.

State Department of Agriculture officials are encouraging all residents to watch for the Spotted Lanternfly and provided the following tips:

  • If you see eggs: Scrape them off the tree or smooth surface, double bag them, and throw them in the garbage or place the eggs in alcohol or hand sanitizer to kill them
  • If you collect a specimen: Turn the adult specimen or egg mass in to the department’s Entomology Lab for verification. First, place the sample in alcohol or hand sanitizer in a leak proof container.
  • If you take a photo: Submit photo of adults or egg masses to badbug@pa.gov.
  • If you report a site: Call the Bad Bug hotline at 1-866-253-7189 with details of the siting and your contact information.

Suspect specimens can be submitted to the department in Harrisburg or any one of the six regional offices, as well as to county Penn State Extension offices.

“From the moment this invasive species was found, the department has actively worked with community partners to contain the pest,” Redding added. “We will continue to work with our partners at every level of government and take proactive measures to minimize its impact on our state and the country.”

Earlier this year, Pennsylvania received $2.8 million for 21 projects through the 2014 Farm Bill to protect the state’s agriculture industry against pest and disease threats. More than $1.5 million of the funding allows the state to address the Spotted Lanternfly.

As of the beginning of May 2015, nearly 20,000 Spotted Lanternflies had been terminated through the work of volunteers scraping egg masses throughout the fall, winter and spring. The egg masses have now hatched, and tree bands are being installed at the bottom of the Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) to catch nymphs. At this time of year, the nymphs are quite recognizable, with their bright red color. Since the beginning of May, members of the community, in addition to experts, have volunteered to install tree bands on their properties and provide counts every two weeks.

The Department of Agriculture received nearly $1.4 million to hire crews for survey, installation of tree bands, and to assist in eradication efforts in the initial six Berks County townships infested with the Spotted Lanternfly.

For more information about the Spotted Lanternfly, visit www.agriculture.state.pa.us and search “Spotted Lanternfly.”


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