Boyertown, PA – With nearly 20,000 Spotted Lanternfly terminated to date and additional egg masses hatching, officials from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Berks County and local community came together today to provide an update on surveillance efforts and work to eradicate this threatening invasive species.
Last fall, the Spotted Lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula, was officially identified in Berks County. A native to China, India, Japan and Vietnam, the Spotted Lanternfly could severely impact the state’s grape, fruit tree and hardwood industries. Spotted Lanternfly is an invasive species in Korea, where it has attacked 25 plant species that also grow in Pennsylvania.
State Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding highlighted the intergovernmental partnerships that are working to contain – and ultimately eradicate – the Spotted Lanternfly.
“I appreciate the support that USDA has given us, particularly to combat the Spotted Lanternfly,” said Redding. “We would like to also thank the Berks County state legislators, county commissioners and the volunteers for their dedication and cooperation as we work together to stop the spread of the Spotted Lanternfly.”
The USDA echoed Redding’s comments and commitment to cooperation.
“The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has a strong history of partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and local producers,” said APHIS Administrator Kevin Shea. “Working together, we successfully eradicated plum pox from the state, and now we’re bringing that same cooperation and resolve to the fight against the Spotted Lanternfly.”
Pennsylvania received $2.8 million for 21 projects through the 2014 Farm Bill to protect the state’s agriculture industry against pest and disease threats. More than $1.5 million of the funding will allow the state to address the Spotted Lanternfly, which poses a significant threat to the commonwealth’s grape, apple, and stone fruit industries. These industries produce sales of approximately $20.5 million, $134 million, and $24 million, respectively. Pine and hardwood logging in Pennsylvania also accounts for $12 billion in sales.
As of the beginning of May, nearly 20,000 Spotted Lanternflies have been terminated through the work of egg mass scraping that occurred throughout the fall, winter and spring. The egg masses are now beginning to hatch, and tree bands are being installed at the bottom of the Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima). Members of the community, in addition to experts, have volunteered to submit egg mass scrapings and install tree bands
The Department of Agriculture received nearly $1.4 million to hire crews for survey, installation of tree bands, and assist in eradication efforts in the six Berks County townships infested with the Spotted Lanternfly.
The department will work with Kutztown University and Penn State University, both of which secured USDA funding, to conduct research to gain better insight on managing and eliminating the pest. Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences received more than $27,000 to study the impact of the Spotted Lanternfly on the grape industry and to develop control solutions for growers, and an additional $30,500 for outreach and extension programming. Kutztown University received more than $13,000 to study the North American host range of Spotted Lanternfly and its seasonal occurrence.
“It is the partnerships we have with Penn State University, Penn State Extension, and Kutztown University that allow us to better understand this new invasive species,” added Redding. “When we fight invasive species in Pennsylvania, we aren’t just working to protect our agriculture industry, but the industry in neighboring states and across the country.”
The United States has not experienced this invasive species prior to its discovery Berks County. There is currently a quarantine in place around the boroughs of Bally and Bechtelsville and the townships of District, Earl, Hereford, Pike, Rockland and Washington. The quarantine may be expanded to new areas as further detections of the Spotted Lanternfly are detected and confirmed.