Agriculture Secretary Urges Consumers to Help Keep Foreign Insect from Spreading through Pennsylvania

slflypic1-300x200HARRISBURG, Pa. – An invasive insect new to the United States that has the potential to impact grape, fruit trees, and the hardwood industries has been discovered in Berks County, prompting the immediate quarantine of Pike and District townships.

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 which also grow in Pennsylvania.

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

“Help us by looking for adult insects and their egg clusters on your trees, cars, outside furniture – any flat surface that the eggs may be attached to.”

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 30-50 eggs that adhere to flat surfaces including tree bark. Freshly laid egg masses have a grey 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 grey or black trail of sap down the trunk.

The general quarantine of the two townships restricts movement of any material or object that can spread the pest. This includes firewood or wood products, brush or yard waste, remodeling or construction materials and waste, packing material like boxes, grapevines for decorative purposes or as nursery stock, and any outdoor household articles like lawnmowers, grills, tarps and any other equipment, trucks or vehicles not stored indoors.

Businesses in the general quarantine area need to obtain a Certificate of Limited Permit from the department in order to move articles. Criminal and civil penalties of up to $20,000 and prison time can be imposed for violations by businesses or individuals.

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,” said Greig. “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.”

Affected citizens can learn more during a meeting hosted by the department Wednesday, November 5, at 1 p.m. at the Berks County Agricultural Center, 1238 County Welfare Road, Leesport. Call 610-378-1327 for more information on the meeting or join it online at https://meeting.psu.edu/industryupdate.

Grieg encourages all Pennsylvanians to watch for the Spotted Lanternfly and offered the following suggestions:

· 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 [email protected]

· If you report a site: Call the Bad Bug hotline at 1-866-253-7189 with details of the siting and your contact information.

Greig added that while Pennsylvanians can submit suspect eggs to the department headquarters in Harrisburg or to its six regional office locations, county Penn State Extension offices are often a closer, quicker option.

For more information including photos and video of the Spotted Lanternfly, the full quarantine order, a sample submission form and updates in the fight, visit www.agriculture.state.pa.us and search “lanternfly.”


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