State officials ask for public’s help combating spotted lanternfly

  • Marie Cusick/StateImpact Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania state officials are asking for the public’s help in controlling the spotted lanternfly — an invasive insect that is both a nuisance and a threat to crops.

Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding joined Gov. Tom Wolf Tuesday for a tour of an area in Harrisburg infested with spotted lanternflies, to highlight how the state is dealing with it.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding, Forest Insect Pest Aid Jay Losiewicz, and Gov. Tom Wolf survey damage from spotted lanternflies in Harrisburg.

The insect is seen as a significant threat to Pennsylvania’s grape, tree fruit, hardwood and nursery industries, which collectively contribute about $18 billion dollars to the state’s economy.

It was first discovered in Berks County in 2014. Heather Leach, a spotted lanternfly extension associate with Penn State’s Department of Entomology, said the insect has now spread to more than a dozen counties in southeast and central Pennsylvania.

“We need everybody’s eyes out there and to make sure they’re reporting it back to us,” she said. “If it does spread to say, Centre County, or up to Erie, where there is a lot of grape production, we need to know about it as soon as possible.”

Sightings can be reported online with the state, or by calling 1-888-4BADFLY.

Businesses and people who are in the state’s quarantine zone are required to comply with regulations to prevent its spread.

For example, anyone in the zone should inspect their vehicles and other outdoor items they may be transporting and remove the insects.

Counties under quarantine

  • Berks
  • Bucks
  • Carbon
  • Chester
  • Dauphin
  • Delaware
  • Lancaster
  • Lebanon
  • Lehigh
  • Monroe
  • Montgomery
  • Northampton
  • Philadelphia
  • Schuylkill

Source: State agriculture department

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