Destructive Pest Devastates Growers in PA, Infestations Now Confirmed in 12 States

An insect that has already caused vast crop damage in Pennsylvania is looking for new places to ravage. According to CBS News, the spotted lanternfly can be blamed for about $300 million worth of agricultural damage in Pennsylvania in 2019. The damage continues. “Some vineyards have seen a 100 percent crop loss,” Sharon Powers of Pennsylvania’s Department of Agriculture said, according to a report from Fox Weather published by the New York Post. “They are a threat to our economy as well as our quality of life.” And it is on the move. Infestations by the bug, which originated in Asia, have been confirmed found in 12 states so far and it has been detected in others, according to the University of Maryland Extension Service. Human activity is blamed for the spread of the bugs, according to Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in Ithica, New York. Warning signs have been posted in California’s Napa Valley. An infestation in North Carolina has also been reported. Gavyn Essner of Williamstown, New Jersey, said this has been a big year for the pests. “It was like it was raining lanternflies when you walk outside,” he said. “Our yard – this was the worst year so far,” said Essner about the insects. He started noticing lanternflies three to four years ago in his Williamstown, New Jersey yard. “The previous years we have seen them here and there, nothing major, but this is by far the worst. I had to wrap tape around the trees this year.” The spotted lanternfly sucks the sap out of plant stems, and can also damage hardwood forests, orchards, and vineyards, according to Fox Weather. “We see in the last couple of years, hundreds of thousands” Richard Blair of Setter Ridge Vineyards in Berks County, Pennsylvania, said. “The first invasion back in 2014 occurred at our first vineyard, and by 2017, the vineyard was dead.” The bugs coat plants with a sugary glop called honeydew. “The honeydew that the insects squirt out covers the plants, blocks photosynthesis, so the plant doesn’t get the sunlight it needs,” Powers said, according to the Fox Weather report. “And the plant is basically smothered, but it’s also covered with a black, sooty mold that destroys the plant.” Powers said neither the bugs nor the honeydew can hurt humans, but it can be messy when outdoor furniture is awash in the gunk. [firefly_poll] In New Jersey, the Camden County Mosquito Commission sprays trees to indirectly kill the bugs. “You’re spraying the tree, it’s absorbed into the sap, and then it stays there in the tree system for a couple of months,” Lauren Bonus of the Mosquito Commission said, according to Fox Weather. “And every time the spotted lanternfly feeds on the tree, it will die. So it’s long-lasting.” This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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