Educational event at Northern Tier about devastating effects of Spotted Lanternfly
The spotted lanternfly could soon move across the state into western Pennsylvania, and residents have the opportunity to learn what that means and what they can do about the invasive pests at an upcoming talk at Northern Tier Regional Library.
Penn State master gardener Dianne Machesney will share information collected by researchers from Penn State and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
“It’s devastating to commercial agriculture,” she said. “It hasn’t come this far yet, but if it gets to Erie where all the grapevines are it could decimate that industry. It’s a really serious thing.”
The spotted lanternfly was first discovered in Berks County in Eastern Pennsylvania in 2014 and has remained primarily in that part of the state as well as New Jersey and Delaware, Machesney said. Researchers believe the pest, a native of Asia, came to the United States on container ships.
“When you turn it upside down, it has what looks like a straw with a drill at the end at its mouth,” Machesney said. “It can get through the bark of a tree, suck out the sap and kill the tree. When it lands on fruit it sucks it dry, and they like grapes, apples, peaches, any type of fruit you can think of. And you don’t get one, they come en masse. You can get hundreds at one time.”
The concern is so great for how the progression of the insect could affect the state’s grape, tree-fruit, hardwood, nursery and landscape industries that the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture enlisted the help of Penn State researchers to study the spotted lanternfly and determine how to contain and destroy it.
Part of that means educating and asking for the public’s help.
Machesney will discuss how to identify the Spotted Lanternfly, what types of trees and surfaces the insects like best, and what to do if someone spots them. “One thing they want is for people to recognize what the egg casings look like and scrape them off and kill them before they hatch,” she said.
Thirteen counties in the southeastern part of the state are under quarantine, she said, and it’s important for anyone traveling to or through those counties to check their vehicles for eggs before returning home.
“These bugs really like smooth surfaces to put eggs on, so they could be on the bumper or in the wheel well,” she said. “It you’re in a quarantined area they want you to actually check your car, look underneath, look at everything when you leave those counties.”