Nov 5, 2014
New invasive pest found in Pennsylvania

A new invasive insect that has the potential to impact the grape, fruit tree and hardwood industries has been discovered in Berks County, Pennsylvania, prompting the immediate quarantine of Pike and District townships, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA).

The spotted lanternfly, an inch-long, black red and white spotted pest, is native to China, India, Japan and Vietnam. It’s an invasive species in Korea, where it has attacked 25 plant species that also grow in Pennsylvania, according to PDA.

“Since this is new to the country, we are taking every precaution possible,” said PDA Secretary George Greig. “We need to do everything we can to stop the spread of the spotted lanternfly.”

The spotted lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula, attacks grapes, apples, pines and stone fruits. It often attaches to the bark of Tree of Heaven – sometimes referred to as Paradise Tree – 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 to 50 eggs that adhere to flat surfaces, including tree bark. Freshly laid egg masses have a gray, waxy, mudlike coating, while hatched eggs appear as brownish seedlike deposits in four to seven columns about an inch long. Trees attacked by the spotted lanternfly will show a gray or black trail of sap down the trunk, according to PDA.

The department is investigating the quarantined and surrounding areas to assess the spread and impact of the pest. Additional townships may be added to the quarantine.

“Berks County is the front line in the war against spotted lanternfly,” Greig said. “We are taking every measure possible to learn more, educate the public and ourselves and eliminate this threat to agriculture. We know we’re asking a lot, but we know Pennsylvanians will assist us and help save our fruit trees, grapes and forests.”

Grieg offered the following suggestions for spotting spotted lanternfly:

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 PDA’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 [email protected].

If you report a site: Call the Bad Bug hotline at 866-253-7189 with details and your contact information.

While Pennsylvanians can submit suspect eggs to PDA headquarters in Harrisburg or its six regional office locations, county Penn State Extension offices are often a closer, quicker option, Greig said.

For more information, including photos and video of the spotted lanternfly, the full quarantine order, a sample submission form and updates in the fight, click here and search for “lanternfly.”

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