UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The public is invited to hear the latest on the spotted lanternfly during a Penn State Extension webinar — “Spotted Lanternfly Update 2020: How We Are Fighting It and What You Need to Know” — planned for noon May 5.
Emelie Swackhamer, horticulture extension educator based in Montgomery County, will describe the situation that has been unfolding in Pennsylvania and surrounding states over the last five years. She will discuss management options, explain regulations in place to slow the pest’s spread and give an overview of current research.
The spotted lanternfly, sometimes referred to as SLF, is an invasive insect from Asia that first was found in North America in Berks County, Pennsylvania, in 2014. The pest since has spread to at least 26 Pennsylvania counties, as well as to New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.
Economists warn that this insect, if not contained, could drain Pennsylvania’s economy of at least $324 million annually and cause the loss of about 2,800 jobs. At risk are $18 billion worth of agricultural commodities — including grapes, tree fruit, nursery plants and hardwood lumber — as well as natural habitats, parks and backyards.
Swackhamer has a bachelor’s degree in plant science from Penn State and a master’s in plant pathology from North Carolina State University. She has served as a horticulture educator for Penn State Extension in southeastern Pennsylvania for 24 years. Her programs are aimed at the green industry and consumer horticulture audiences.
She has been on the educational front line of the spotted lanternfly invasion since its discovery and is participating in several research projects to learn more about the invasive insect.
Register here for the webinar, which is being sponsored by Rainbow Tree Co. of Minnetonka, Minnesota.
To manage spotted lanternfly populations, minimize associated damage, and keep SLF from spreading beyond currently quarantined counties, Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Penn State Extension have partnered with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and USDA to research the insect’s biology and behavior, to evaluate management tactics, and to educate growers and other businesses, local officials and the public.
More information about the spotted lanternfly, the state-imposed quarantine in Pennsylvania, management techniques and how to report a sighting is available on the Penn State Extension website at https://extension.psu.edu/spotted-lanternfly.
–Amy Duke, Penn State University