PHILADELPHIA — On the heels of Spotted Lanternfly sightings throughout Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Fred Strathmeyer was joined by partners in the fight against this invasive species in LOVE Park to educate Philadelphians about why the Spotted Lanternfly is bad and what they should do when they see the invasive insects.
“To help stop the spread of the Spotted Lanternfly, I encourage everyone to close all car windows when parked, and look before you leave, checking every part of your car,” said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Fred Strathmeyer. “We need every Pennsylvanian to be vigilant and stand together in this fight. If Spotted Lanternfly are found in your yard or home, we encourage you to destroy them. They will not harm you, your pets or your house, but can be a real nuisance and can harm your plants and trees.”
To demonstrate the devastating impact of the Spotted Lanternfly, the department displayed empty Pennsylvania wine bottles, asking the audience to imagine life without Pennsylvania wine. Pennsylvania’s grape industry is fifth in the nation and our wineries produce more than 1.6 million gallons of wine annually. Vineyards within the current 14-county quarantine zone are quickly losing vines.
“The college of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State is very concerned about the impact this pest can have on our state’s citizens and economy” said Associate Dean of the college of Agricultural Sciences Dr. Dennis Calvin. “We are working hard to help increase awareness about Spotted Lanternfly, generate new knowledge to help effectively manage the pest and educate citizens on sound management approaches.”
Spotted Lanternflies begin laying eggs in masses of 30 to 50, covered in a gray, mud-like substance, in late September or early October. Egg masses may be found on any smooth, flat surface including trees, stones, playground equipment, patio furniture, or vehicles. Because egg masses can sometimes be hard to spot, they pose the greatest risk for accidental transport of Spotted Lanternfly to new areas.
Spotted Lanternflies are excellent hitchhikers. The adult Spotted Lanternfly city-dwellers seen in recent weeks likely hitched rides on commuter vehicles from outside the city and have taken up residence on Ailanthus altissima (Tree of Heaven) and other plants. Since it is currently mating and egg laying season for these bad bugs, Philadelphians are encouraged to squash the ones they see to prevent them from laying egg masses throughout the city to hatch next spring.
“Everyone has a role in the battle against this pest,” said U.S. Department of Agriculture’s State Plant Health Director Timothy Newcamp. “Look for egg masses and destroy them, check your vehicle before traveling, and when you see an adult lanternfly, squash it. Taking action here helps Pennsylvania—and it will help rest of the country.”
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences have been working in partnership to educate the public and contain and suppress populations of the Spotted Lanternfly. USDA has been at the forefront of treatment in the Philadelphia area and Penn State has taken the role of research, to understand the biology, lifecycle, and behavior of the Spotted Lanternfly.
In July of this year, Governor Tom Wolf signed the first-ever Pennsylvania Farm Bill which aims to protect Pennsylvania’s agricultural infrastructure through the creation of the PA Rapid Response Account funded at $5 million. This account allows for a quick response to agricultural disasters, which includes $3 million for animal or plant health officials to utilize to contain an outbreak or threat, such as the Spotted Lanternfly. Additionally, USDA recently dedicated more than $7.5 million in new funding to Pennsylvania’s efforts.
Homeowners with questions about treatment, including approved sprays, can learn more through Penn State Extension at http://extension.psu.edu/
For more information on Spotted Lanternfly, visit www.agriculture.pa.gov/
–Shannon Powers, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture