The invasive insect-making national news has now been spotted in Central Pennsylvania prompting the state Department of Agriculture to issue warnings.

The spotted lanternfly is not only pervasive and invasive but deadly to plants. The plant-hopping bug pierces plants with its mouth and sucks sugary sap out of the stems, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. 

Ever since the spotted lanternfly first appeared in Berks County, Pa., in 2014 (arriving from its home in Asia), this invasive species has been booking it across the United States.

Recent reports indicate the bugs have settled in New York, Canada, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina, and now, according to Brian Eshenaur, they have migrated over to the Midwest.

These insects are not dangerous to humans or pets — they don’t bite or sting and they aren’t venomous. But they do pose a serious risk to agriculture.

The lanternflies lay egg masses in late summer and autumn on the trunks of trees and any smooth-surfaced item sitting outdoors. The egg masses, which resemble smears of dry mud, can also be laid on the smooth surfaces of cars, trucks, and trains.

Then, they can be unintentionally transported to any part of the country in just a few days. Once the eggs hatch, they crawl to nearby host plants to start a new infestation.

They feed by piercing the bark of trees and vines to tap into the plant’s vascular system to feast on sap. For a sucking insect, lanternflies are relatively big. They remove large amounts of sap and excrete copious amounts of clear, sticky “honeydew” that can coat the tree and anything beneath. A black sooty mold grows wherever the honeydew has been deposited.

While unsightly, sooty mold isn’t harmful when growing on the bark of the tree or beneath it. Lanternfly feeding seriously stresses trees and vines, which lose carbohydrates and other nutrients meant for storage in the roots and eventually for new growth. Infested trees and vines grow more slowly, exhibit dieback—begin to die from the branch tips—and can even die outright.

The department wants people to avoid parking their vehicles under trees or near bushes — where the insects can lay eggs or stow away to invade a new location.

The public should also get familiar with the bug in all its black-spotted glory. Many states are urging the public to show the bugs no mercy: Kill them on sight.

Virginia’s Department of Agriculture said the best method of extermination is crushing or stomping on them (the good old-fashioned way) or putting them “in a container of alcohol, diluted Clorox (10%), or hand sanitizer. Larger populations can be treated with a contact or systemic insecticide.”

Source: AWM

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.