UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — This is the time of year when thousands of students, families and football fans are coming to University Park, and Penn State officials want to make sure those visitors are not transporting the spotted lanternfly, an invasive insect that is threatening the northeastern U.S., especially southeastern Pennsylvania.
The planthopper, native to Asia, has the potential to harm Pennsylvania's economy by damaging crops, landscapes and natural ecosystems, including the grape, tree-fruit, hardwood and nursery industries.
Vigilance is especially important as the pest’s egg-laying season is quickly approaching, noted Heather Leach, Penn State’s spotted lanternfly extension associate.
“With the volume of visitors heading to campus now, we are concerned that they may unknowingly spread the insect during their travels,” she said. “And keeping this pest from reaching beyond the current 14-county quarantine zone is critical while we work toward control solutions."
To share that message, Penn State has launched a multimedia public-awareness campaign asking visitors to campus, especially those coming from southeastern Pennsylvania, to take the following precautions before traveling:
- Walk around your vehicle and check closely for any spotted lanternfly adults and/or nymphs; particularly check the windshield wiper area, bumpers and wheel wells. In fall and winter, also look for egg masses, which have the appearance of mud splatters.
- Check any piece of equipment or item that you will be transporting that has been outdoors in the quarantine area — such as grills, tents, tables or yard games.
- Do not park your RV or other vehicles under trees. Keep your windows up at all times.
- Check yourself before getting into any vehicle to make sure there are no spotted lanternfly nymphs or adults on you.
Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences and Penn State Extension are leading a multistate, interdisciplinary task force consisting of government, industry and agriculture representatives who are working together to identify specific strategies to combat the spotted lanternfly.
For more information about how to identify and control spotted lanternfly, how to report an infestation and how to comply with quarantine regulations, visit the Penn State Extension website at https://extension.psu.edu/spotted-lanternfly.
(The Spotted Lanternfly (SLF), Lycorma delicatula (White), is an invasive plant hopper native to China, India, Vietnam. It was first discovered in Pennsylvania in Berks County and has spread to other counties in the southeast portion of the Commonwealth. This insect has the potential to greatly impact agricultural crops such as grapes, hops, and hardwoods. It is also reducing the quality of life for people living in heavily infested areas.
What Is Being Done
Penn State University and Extension, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and PA Department of Agriculture (PDA) have joined forces to control and contain the spread of SLF. Penn State University is leading the research efforts currently underway to answer the many questions we have about the insect’s biology, pesticide studies, and the ability of the insect to adapt to the environment in Pennsylvania. USDA and PDA are actively treating locations where SLF has been reported. USDA is treating on the outer edges where the populations are small and will begin to move inward towards the center of the quarantine. PDA is treating areas where the population numbers are high and is targeting high risk pathways which may contribute to moving the insect to other locations. As funding is available, both USDA and PDA will work on properties for treatment. PDA is also surveying all counties in the state outside the quarantine looking for SLF.
What Can Be Done
Spotted Lanternfly can be controlled with a combination of physical removal of life stages and host treesOpens In A New Window , as well as pesticide applications. Penn State Extension has developed information for homeowner managementOpens In A New Window as well as a management calendarOpens In A New Window. Use of these management techniques are important to assist PDA and USDA in control of the spread of this invasive pest.
Businesses also play an important role. Business owners should incorporate pest management into their vegetation management plans and work to minimize the possibility of this insect hitching a ride on products they produce and ship. Businesses who ship products within and out of the quarantine zone are required to have or hire companies who have a Spotted Lanternfly PermitOpens In A New Window.
How You Can Help
This insect is easily moved if no one is looking. If you are in the quarantine area, please “Look Before You LeaveOpens In A New Window.” Inspecting your vehicles, trailers, or any outdoor items before you move around or out of the quarantine is important. If possible, don’t park in tree lines and keep windows rolled up when you park your vehicle. Know the life stages of the insect and when to look for them.
Using the recommendationsOpens In A New Window developed by Penn State Extension, take control measures on your own property. Any efforts you make in destroying the Spotted Lanternfly or it’s egg masses helps your property and community.
Report sightings of the Spotted LanternflyOpens In A New Window. All reports of SLF outside of the quarantine are taken seriously and will be investigated. Reports within the quarantine are registered in a database for USDA and PDA. The database is used to help determine properties for treatment. Treatment is based on location, risk, and available funds.
Please join the effort to control and prevent the spread of Spotted Lanternfly. We need everyone to protect their properties, communities, and the Commonwealth from this invasive insect that has the potential to change our landscape and quality of life.