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Pennsylvania

Invasive spotted lanternfly eggs begin to hatch in Berks County

| Wednesday, May 16, 2018, 12:54 p.m.
Lateral view of an adult Lycorma delicatula, also known as the Spotted Lanternfly.
Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
Lateral view of an adult Lycorma delicatula, also known as the Spotted Lanternfly.
Spotted Lanternfly.
Spotted Lanternfly.

They're small, they're spotted and they aren't supposed to be here.

But an invasive species of lanternfly is starting to hatch in Pennsylvania, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

"Over the weekend, the first spotted lanternfly nymphs were sighted in the Hamburg area of Berks County. This first life stage of the spotted lanternfly is small, black and spotted ... and often mistaken for ticks. Keep your eyes peeled for these small, but devastating bugs," the department said on Facebook.

The spotted lanternfly, or Lycorma delicatula, hails from China and India but has been spreading in the United States since 2014, according to the Department of Agriculture.

The insects can devastate crops.

"This insect has the potential to greatly impact the grape, hops and logging industries. Early detection is vital for the protection of Pennsylvania businesses and agriculture," the department said in a news release.

The fly lays its eggs on a variety of smooth surfaces, including debarked logs awaiting export in shipping yards.

The pest first arrived in Pennsylvania in September 2014 when it showed up in Berks County. As of last year, it was found in 75 municipalities across six counties in eastern Pennsylvania. Strict measures have been implemented to kill the insect.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture in February announced $17.5 million in emergency funding to fight the spread of the spotted lanternfly in Pennsylvania.

The USDA says $8.7 million will be spent on a survey and control program for the infested area, $7.5 million will go toward insecticides and herbicides and the rest will fund public education efforts.

What you can do

Identification: The spotted lanternfly adult is approximately an inch long and a half-inch wide. The forewing is grey with black spots, and the wings tips are reticulated black blocks outlined in grey. The hind wings have contrasting patches of red and black with a white band. The legs and head are black; the abdomen is yellow with broad black bands. Immature stages are black with white spots, and develop red patches as they grow.

Signs and symptoms: Trees, such as tree of heaven and willow, will develop weeping wounds. These wounds will leave a greyish or black trail along the trunk. This sap will attract other insects to feed, notably wasps and ants. In late fall, adults will lay egg masses on host trees and nearby smooth surfaces like stone, outdoor furniture, vehicles and structures. Newly laid egg masses have a gray, mud-like covering that can take on a dry cracked appearance over time. Old egg masses appear as rows of 30 to 50 brownish seed-like deposits in four to seven columns on the trunk, roughly an inch long.

What to do: If you see egg masses, scrape them off, double bag them and throw them away. You can also place the eggs into alcohol or hand sanitizer to kill them. Please report all destroyed egg masses here .

Collect a specimen: Specimens of any life stage can be turned in to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture's Entomology lab for verification. Submit samples with the Entomology Program Sample Submission Form .

Take a picture: A photograph of any life stage (including egg masses) can be submitted to Badbug@pa.gov.

Report it: If you can't take a specimen or photograph, call the Automated Invasive Species Report Line at 1-866-253-7189 and leave a message detailing your sighting and contact information.

Source: Department of Agriculture

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Matthew Medsger is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4675, mmedsger@tribweb.com or via Twitter @matthew_medsger.

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