HARRISBURG — On the same day Gov. Tom Wolf proposed nearly $1.6 million in state funding to stop the spread of the spotted lanternfly, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that $17.5 million in emergency funding will be used to combat the invasive pest.
“We’ve seen a dramatic expansion in the range of this pest over the last year and we need to take decisive action to prevent the spotted lanternfly from spreading throughout Pennsylvania and into neighboring states,” Perdue said. “We have the tools to fight this invasive insect and — together with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture — we have developed an area-wide approach that will begin before the pest starts to re-emerge in the spring.”
The spotted lanternfly is an inch-long black, red and white spotted insect native to Southeast Asia. The insect, first identified in the Commonwealth in Berks County in 2014, is a threat to to agriculture commodities produced in the area, such as apples, grapes and hardwoods. The pest has spread to 13 southeastern counties, including Lancaster and Lebanon.
The emergency funding will be used to manage the outer perimeter of the infestation as well as focus on a 3-mile perimeter surrounding the core of the infested area, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s release. The goal is to stop the leading edge of the infestation and starting pushing it inward while reducing the density of the spotted lanternfly populations, the release states.