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Spotted Lanternfly
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Spotted Lanternfly

This webpage contains information on the Spotted Lanternfly and the impact on the green industry in Pennsylvania.  Additional information can be found on the PA Department of Agriculture's website and Penn State Extension's website. As additional information and updates become available, PLNA will send alerts via PLNA e-News.  If you don't currently receive the monthly PLNA e-News, sign up here.

 

The Spotted Lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula (White), an invasive planthopper was discovered in Berks County in 2014. The pest is native to China, India, Japan, Vietnam, and introduced to Korea where it is a pest. This pest attacks many hosts including grapes, apple, pines, stone fruits, and Tree of Heaven and has the potential to greatly impact the grape, fruit tree, and logging industries.  It is also reducing the quality of life for people living in heavily infested areas.

 

Since the discovery in Berks County, this pest has spread to contiguous counties and has recently been confirmed in Dauphin County. Fourteen (14) counties in Pennsylvania are currently under quarantine.

 

The invasive pest is a threat to outdoor living which is very apparent in the counties where it has invaded. The bugs gather in masses in trees, on hard surfaces such as houses and, although they don’t bite, are attracted to and land on people who are in their midst.  As it attacks vineyards, vegetable and fruit crops, soybeans and other agronomic crops the SLF literally rain “honey dew,” a sticky excretion that promotes the growth of sooty mold that is found everywhere it lands. These surfaces turn black as the mold colonies grow.

“Eradicating the Spotted Lanternfly is important not only for our citizens, but for our economy, as well,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “This invasive insect threatens to destroy $18 billion worth of agricultural commodities here like apples, grapes and hardwoods, inflicting a devastating impact on the livelihoods of our producers and businesses. It’s also undermining the quality of life for Pennsylvanians who are coping with hoards found in many infested areas.”

The Spotted Lanternfly is approximately 1" long and 1/2" wide. The fore-wing is grey with black spots and the wings tips are reticulated black blocks outlined in grey. The hind wings have contrasting patches of red and black with a white band partially separating. The legs and head are black; the abdomen is yellow with broad black bands. The mouth-parts are tubular and arises from the bottom of the head

Spotted Lanternfly attacks grapes, apples, pines and stone fruits. It often attaches to the bark of Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima), an invasive species similar to Sumac that can be found around parking lots or along tree lines. Adults often cluster in groups and lay egg masses containing 30-50 eggs that adhere to flat surfaces including tree bark. Freshly laid egg masses have a grey waxy mud-like coating, while hatched eggs appear as brownish seed-like deposits in four to seven columns about an inch long. Early in the fall the adults will congregate mainly on stems of Tree of Heaven and grape. Weeping wounds will leave a grayish or black trail along the trunk. Mold patches, appearing as large yellowish white mats, may develop at the tree base. Feeding damage will attract yellow jackets and hornets so caution is advised.


Certain native insects bear a resemblance to this pest. Tiger moths and underwings both share the bright and showy hind wing contrasting a duller fore wing. The Spotted Lanternfly is a poor flyer compared to these moths and most insects, but is a very strong and quick jumper.

 

Federal and State Action 

In February 2018 the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that it was awarding $17.5 million in emergency funding to halt the spread of the invasive Spotted Lanternfly (SLF).

The pest, first identified in Berks County in 2014, has spread throughout southeastern Pennsylvania into New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. SLF is a major threat to agricultural and nursery crops, particularly fruit trees and hardwoods.

Federal-State Partnership

The emergency funding will be used for a two-pronged approach to contain the SLF threat. USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service will monitor and control the outside of the infestation area to stop the insect from spreading while the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture will work within the core infestation area to reduce SLF populations.

Perdue Recognizes Problem

"We've seen a dramatic expansion in the range of this pest over the last year and we need to take decisive action to prevent the spotted lanternfly from spreading throughout Pennsylvania and into neighboring states," USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said. "We have the tools to fight this invasive insect and - together with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) - we have developed an area-wide approach that will begin before the pest starts to re-emerge in the spring."

Redding Welcomes News

“Secretary Perdue’s announcement is welcomed news for the commonwealth, our agriculture and business communities, and the people living in infested areas,” said PDA Secretary Russell Redding. “We have been especially diligent in making the case for additional resources as the magnitude of this challenge has expanded over the past three years.

Redding continued, “We are grateful to Secretary Purdue and to his colleagues at USDA for acknowledging that need and for their significant investment and dedication to helping us control and eradicate this potentially devastating invasive pest. We are also grateful to members of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation and the General Assembly who have advocated tirelessly for this funding on our behalf.”

USDA, PDA Roles

According to USDA’s announcement, the federal agency, through its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), will focus on managing the outer perimeter of the infestation, which as of last year covered approximately 3,000 square miles. The state Department of Agriculture will be responsible for focusing on a three-mile perimeter surrounding the core infested area. The goal of this two-pronged approach is to prevent further expansion of the infestation area and to start moving insects inward, while at the same time reducing the density of Spotted Lanternfly populations in the core-infested area.

PDA Pledges State Funding

Using this strategy will require dedicated resources for the state Department of Agriculture to fulfill its responsibility. Yesterday, Governor Tom Wolf proposed nearly $1.6 million in funding specifically for Spotted Lanternfly surveillance and response as part of his fiscal year 2018-19 budget plan.

What the Green Industry Can Do

As professionals in the Green Industry there are many ways for you to help prevent the spread of this pest:

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 Additional information can be found on the PA Department of Agriculture's website and Penn State Extension's website.

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