PENNSYLVANIA FURNACE, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has joined Penn State University at the College of Agricultural Science’s Ag Progress Days to host a public townhall on the Spotted Lanternfly — an invasive insect that has the potential to impact a number of industries worth tens of billions of dollars to the state.
“Over the course of the last year as our efforts have expanded, so has our commitment to public engagement and awareness,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “Today’s townhall gives us another opportunity to shine a light on the Spotted Lanternfly’s possible impact and give Pennsylvanians access to the tools they need to help us win this fight. The goal remails to eradicate this pest completely from Pennsylvania, but the public’s involvement is crucial for us to achieve that goal.”
During the townhall, Ag Progress Days guests gathered to ask questions about the pest; hear an update on the work Penn State, PDA and the United States Department of Agriculture are doing to control it; and learn about ways they can help. Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences Dean Rick Roush convened the group in an effort to provide continued understanding, transparency and education to the public.
Earlier this year, PDA, USDA and Penn State University formed a coalition to combat this pest and continue to safeguard the commonwealth’s agriculture industry. PDA has taken responsibility for suppressing Spotted Lanternfly populations in the core infestation area, while USDA has established a perimeter extending 18 miles out from the core area, where they are working to eliminate any infestation. Between the two agencies, the entire Spotted Lanternfly quarantine area of 13 counties in southeastern Pennsylvania is being covered. Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences has taken the lead on public outreach through its Cooperative Extension service.
Additionally, Governor Tom Wolf and the General Assembly approved $3 million in dedicated state funding to combat the Spotted Lanternfly as part of the fiscal year 2018-19 budget. This funding supplements $17.5 million in federal funding from USDA, received earlier this year. This funding has helped the coalition, which also includes numerous local partners, invest in a statewide survey, control and treatment services, grants and research.
The Spotted Lanternfly is an inch-long black, red and white spotted insect native to Southeast Asia and first identified in Pennsylvania in 2014. The invasive insect feeds on agricultural commodities produced in the state, such as hops, grapes, apples and hardwoods.
Pennsylvanians are encouraged to report sightings of the pest through an online reporting tool found at extension.psu.edu/spotted-lanternfly or by calling the new hotline, 1-888-4BADFLY. The hotline will connect callers to Penn State Extension staff who will provide guidance and next steps.
— Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture