Invasive pest in Northeast PA

State tries to stop the spread

By OWEN WALSH
Posted 3/25/21

NORTHEAST PA — The PA Department of Agriculture has added Wayne, Pike and Lackawanna counties to the state’s spotted lanternfly (SLF) quarantine zone ahead of the 2021 spring hatch. There …

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Invasive pest in Northeast PA

State tries to stop the spread

Posted

NORTHEAST PA — The PA Department of Agriculture has added Wayne, Pike and Lackawanna counties to the state’s spotted lanternfly PA Department of Agriculture (SLF) quarantine zone ahead of the 2021 spring hatch. There are now 34 counties included in this list. The invasive pest was first identified in Berks County, PA in 2014 and poses a significant threat to the commonwealth’s natural resources and economy.

SLF is native to Asian countries like China, India and Vietnam. Of the more than 70 plant species the insect feeds on in those countries, 25 can be found in Pennsylvania. Most concerning to state officials are its potential effects on the grape, apple, peach and hardwood industries.

“This pest poses a significant threat to the state’s more than $28 million grape, $87 million apple and more than $19 million peach industries, as well as the hardwood industry in Pennsylvania, which accounts for nearly $17 billion in sales,” according to the PA Department of Agriculture. According to a 2019 economic impact study, unless its spread is mitigated, the insect could cost the state $324 million annually and more than 2,800 jobs.

Spotting SLF

The insect’s egg mass, which poses “perhaps the greatest risk for accidental transport,” can be found on the bark of trees or other smooth surfaces such as rocks, outdoor furniture, vehicles and other surfaces; are about one inch long and a half to three-quarters of an inch wide and have a gray or brown, mud-like covering. Newly laid eggs can be shiny and look like they have a waxy coating that can become dry and cracked over time. Older egg masses may lose their covering and appear as four to seven columns of seed-like eggs, 30 to 50 eggs in total. Look for these between now and May.

At the next, nymph stage, the insect is black with white spots, wingless and will develop red patches and white spots as it matures; at the fourth instar, nymphs are over half an inch long and will jump readily when approached or touched. Look for these between April and October.

Finally, as adults, the lanternflies have grayish wings with black spots at rest, and the tips are black and gray; when flying or startled, the insect will display vibrant red hind wings; adults are around one-inch long and a half-inch wide with wings folded; and adults can jump several feet when startled or approached. Look for these from July through November.

Quarantining 

The state is strictly prohibiting the movement of SLF at any life stage and is regulating the transportation of any articles that may harbor the insect. These include:

Landscaping, remodeling or construction waste

Logs, stumps, or any tree parts

Firewood of any species

Outdoor furniture

Grapevines for decorative purposes or as nursery stock

Nursery stock

Mobile fire pits

Tile, stone

Deck boards

Packing materials such as pots, crates, pallets, etc.

Outdoor vehicles such as tractors and mowers and mobile homes

The PA Department of Agriculture has provided residents living in quarantine zone counties with a lengthy checklist and are urging residents to take an inventory before traveling and accidentally transporting the invasive pest to other parts of the commonwealth or the country. The checklist can be found at www.bit.ly/LSF-Checklist. 

This story was written using resources from the PA Department of Agriculture, Penn State Extension and Wayne Conservation District. Find more information about the LSF at www.agriculture.pa.gov, www.
extension.psu.edu and www.waynecountypa.gov/186/Wayne-Conservation-District.

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