‘All hands on deck’: Pennsylvania ramps up battle against the spotted lanternfly
Pennsylvania has allocated an additional $3 million in its budget toward the containment of the spotted lanternfly, bringing the total to more than $10 million to protect businesses and agriculture in the state.
The funding was announced Tuesday at a joint press conference held by Gov. Tom Wolf, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding and representatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Penn State University, and U.S. Department of Agriculture at a Harrisburg site populated with spotted lanternflies.
“Although Pennsylvania had the unlucky fate of being the first state in the nation to be visited by the spotted lanternfly, we faced that challenge head-on and have made incredible strides in containment and control,” Wolf said. “This is a team effort and all hands are on deck, committed to protecting Pennsylvania’s agricultural products, preserving our quality of life, and keeping commerce flowing here in the commonwealth.”
The $3 million in funding falls under the governor’s PA Farm Bill and was allocated from the Pennsylvania Rapid Response Disaster Readiness Account. The USDA has recently dedicated more than $6.2 million in new funding to Pennsylvania efforts to combat the invasive bug.
The state Department of Agriculture said it has issued more than 900,000 permits to businesses that travel in and out of the spotted lanternfly quarantine area and continues to assess and treat high-risk properties. Penn State is the lead on conducting outreach and research.
Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding reminded the state’s residents of the role they play in combatting the lanternfly, saying they can treat their property with approved sprays, band their trees, or even use something as simple as a fly swatter.
Back in May, a report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America said a fungus was killing lanternflies at the Angora Fruit Farm, a Berks County park.
While more research is needed, researchers agreed the finding has potential to be a weapon in the fight against the spotted lanternflies, which turn from nymphs to adults in July and August.
The finding comes seven years after the spotted lanternfly, a native of east Asia, first came to Berks County. It has since spread to at least 14 counties in the state, and there are infestations in four other states, according to New York State Integrated Pest Management. Experts say the bugs, which feast on many plants ranging from apple trees to grape vines to hops, continue to pose a threat to billions of dollars of agricultural products.