Department Of Agriculture Seeks Public's Help Destroying Spotted Lanternflies

Stroudsburg Herald
Spotted Lanternfly

By Jared Acosta

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture urges residents to destroy spotted lanternfly egg masses before seasonal temperatures warm.

The spotted lanternfly or SLF is an invasive insect in the planthopper genus native to parts of China. They have spread to Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, and India. Then more recently, the United States. They were first discovered in Berks County, PA, in 2014 but have now been spotted in at least ten other states.

According to a 2019 economic impact study, if not handled properly, these pests can cause an estimated $324 million in damage annually and cost approximately 2,800 jobs throughout the commonwealth's farming and lumber industries. SLF's egg masses can grow on smooth bark, stone, metal, and other substances and are often unsuspectedly transported by moving vehicles. Officials recommend power-washing cars, trucks, and equipment, including their undercarriages. They also suggest inspecting other hard surfaces such as grills, patio furniture, and play equipment for masses.

The SLF feeds on sap from grapevines, black walnut, birch, maple, and willow trees - all of which are vital to Pennsylvania's economy. The insects' feeding damages the trees' ability to heal themselves, often causing death. Their excrement is also known to cause sooty mold and black fungi. In their native habitat, SLFs are kept in check by parasitic wasps, but they have no known predators in the United States.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture recommends destroying egg masses between October and May by scraping them into double plastic bags. Alcohol, hand sanitizer, and sticky traps on trees are also effective, although they are known to avoid changes in bark surfaces.

More information about the spotted lanternfly can be found on the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture's website.

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