PENNSYLVANIA, USA — The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture today reported the first confirmed Spotted Lanternfly hatch of the year. The first-instar nymph was located by a USDA employee yesterday in the University City section of western Philadelphia, near the University of Pennsylvania/Drexel University.
“Let’s use this time at home to make a positive impact on Spotted Lanternfly this season; scrape and destroy any remaining egg masses you find and band your trees now,” said Agriculture Secretary Redding. “We need every Pennsylvanian to keep their eyes peeled for this bad bug, we can’t let our guard down.”
The majority of Spotted Lanternfly hatches begin in southern Pennsylvania in mid to late April and with a lag in timing for Pennsylvania’s more northern counties. As the first instars of Spotted Lanternfly hatch from eggs, they instantly seek tender plant tissue to feed.
The Spotted Lanternfly is capable of decimating entire grape vineyards and damaging fruit orchards, hops, walnuts, hardwoods, and decorative trees. In addition to endangering agriculture, this bad bug threatens our ability to enjoy the outdoors during spring and summer months – they’re known to swarm in the air, cover trees, and coat decks and play equipment with their excrement, known as honeydew. Honeydew, along with sap from weeping plant wounds that result from the feeding of Spotted Lanternfly, can attract bees and other insects and also stimulate the growth of fungi.
Scraping egg masses is the most efficient way to kill 30-50 of the invasive pests at once. If you discover Spotted Lanternfly egg masses, scrape them off, using a putty knife, credit card, or other firm, blunt-edged tool. Penn State Extension has a helpful tutorial on how to destroy egg masses. During the nymph stage, tree banding is the most effective method to capture and kill Spotted Lanternfly. It’s a non-toxic, inexpensive technique that can be used on any tree.
Prior to the 2020 spring hatch, twelve counties were added to Pennsylvania’s Spotted Lanternfly quarantine zone. With this addition, the quarantine for this invasive pest is now at 26 counties. Businesses in the quarantine zone must obtain a permit; fines associated with noncompliance can be up to $300 for a criminal citation or up to $20,000 for a civil penalty. Homeowners with questions about treatment are encouraged to contact their local Penn State Extension office or learn about management, including approved sprays, online. Pennsylvanians who live inside the quarantine zone should also review and sign the Compliance Checklist for residents.
If you scrape an egg mass or squash a Spotted Lanternfly, always report your sighting. Sightings can be reported online or via phone by calling 1-888-4BAD-FLY. For more information on Spotted Lanternfly, visit agriculture.pa.gov/spottedlanternfly.
SOURCE: Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture