A new invasive insect presents a significant, multibillion-dollar threat to the Pennsylvania economy, officials say.
Delaware County is warning residents to be on the lookout for Lycorma Delitacatula, commonly known as the spotted lanternfly. This invasive pest was first discovered in Berks County in 2014 and has been spreading to nearby counties ever since.
The species puts Pennsylvania agriculture at risk, including the grape, tree fruit, hardwood and nursery industries, which all provide crops and forest products worth nearly $18 billion annually, according to the Penn State Extension.
How It Attacks
The spotted lanternfly attacks fruit trees by feeding on the sap in trunks, branches, twigs and leaves, and then excreting a substance during digestion. This sticky fluid can be found on infested plants or the ground below, which provides a medium for growth of fungi, such as sooty mold, that can cover leaf surfaces and stunt growth. Plants with heavy infestations may not survive.
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has issued a quarantine for the following areas that have been confirmed to harbor the spotted lanternfly: Berks, Bucks, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia and Schuylkill.
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What to Look For
Spotted lanternfly egg masses can be found on the bark of trees or other smooth surfaces such as rocks, outdoor furniture, vehicles and other surfaces. They are about 1 inch long and half an inch wide with a gray and brown, mud-like covering. Attacked trees will develop weeping wounds and the sap will attract other insects.
What to Do
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture advises that the adult spotted lanternfly and nymphs can be killed manually by swatting it with a shoe or something else deadly. If you encounter an egg mass, experts suggest scraping the mass into a bottle or bag that can be sealed. If you cannot scrape the egg mass into a container, destroy it as best as possible. The species are known as “hitchhikers” and camouflage themselves in blankets and on cars, so it is also recommended to check your belongings when outside.
If you have seen egg masses, nymphs, or adult spotted lanterfly, report a sighting by clicking here.
Delco Awareness Presentation
Delaware County’s Department of Intercommunity Health, the Delaware County Conservation District and the Penn State Extension have partnered to hold a presentation for residents and business owners regarding the threat of the spotted lanternfly and methods to control the species this fall. Although the date has not yet been finalized, the presentation is set to take place in early November.