Photos courtesy of PA Dept. of Agriculture

Almost clownish in appearance, the spotted lanternfly is no laughing matter. This exotic insect poses a major threat to many of our region’s native plant species and hardwood forests. Adults are approximately 1 inch long and one-half inch wide at rest.

Meeting to target spotted lanternfly

As noted in our news story of February 8, the latest exotic insect invader to threaten our native plant species is the spotted lanternfly (SLF). Despite its eye-catching appearance, this is a seriously bad bug that was first discovered in Berks County, PA in 2014 and has expanded to affect approximately 3,000 square miles by the end of 2017. Its reach now extends into southern Monroe County.

The colorful insect is known to feed on more than 70 different plant species, with particularly devastating effects on grapes, hops, orchards and hardwood forests. It is expected to have a major impact on agriculture and forestry, with other anticipated environmental consequences.

An educational meeting for the public, landowners and members of the forest product industry is slated for February 27 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the NEET Center, 1300 Old Plank Rd. in Mayfield, PA (Lackawanna County).

The meeting will cover general information including initial detection, biology and life cycle, current distribution, impacts of pest feeding, recorded damage, pathways for spread and control methods, quarantine expansion and more. There is currently a quarantine in place for 13 counties in southeastern PA to try to stop the movement of the pest.

The free event is sponsored by the Northern Tier Hardwood Association (NTHA) and registration is required. Email nthapa@nthardwoods.org or visit the NTHA website at www.nthardwoods.org/training.php to register.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue recently announced $17.5 million in emergency funding to halt the spread of SLF. The emergency funding targets management of the outer perimeter of the infestation, aiming to stop the leading edge and start pushing it inward while at the same time reducing the density of SLF populations in the core-infested area.

In addition to emergency activities in Pennsylvania, surveys and other control measures may be employed in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Virginia.

If you think you have seen a spotted lanternfly, take a picture and submit it to Badbug@pa.gov or call the Automated Invasive Species Report Line at 866/253-7189 and leave a message detailing your sighting and contact information. Visit https://extension.psu.edu/what-to-do-if-you-find-spotted-lanternfly to learn what other measures you can take.

 

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