Beware of the Spotted Lanternfly in PA
Butterfly Imposter to Affect Agriculture in Monroe County

A display of butterflies. Photo Courtesy / Peggy Diaco
A display of butterflies. Photo Courtesy / Peggy Diaco
A display of butterflies. Photo Courtesy / Peggy Diaco

A display of butterflies.
Photo Courtesy / Peggy Diaco

By Peggy Diaco
Staff Writer

They are pretty and colorful like a butterfly, but don’t let that fool you. The Spotted Lanternfly is the newest insect to invade the United States from India and China.

Discovered in Berks County, Pa. in 2014, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) is on the lookout for the insect here in Monroe County.

According to the PDA website, Spotted Lanternflies could possibly be harmful to cultivated grape vines, fruit trees, and some hardwood species of trees.

This could have a bad effect on many of the area wineries as well as farms.

The PDA has issued a quarantine to try to restrict the movement of the insect.

“Whenever we have a bad pest in our country – the majority of the time it is introduced from another country,” said Dr. Matthew Wallace, Professor of Biological Sciences at East Stroudsburg University.

Dr. Wallace was recently featured on a news segment of WBRE reporting on the insect invasion.

“The Spotted Lanternfly’s potential impact on grapes and fruit trees is still unknown,” said Dr. Wallace. “You have to do a lot of research; you don’t know the total impact until you do.”

Dr. Wallace explained that once that research is complete, an integrated pest management (IPM) plan can be implemented. That doesn’t necessarily mean pesticides.

The University of California Agriculture and Natural Resource website states that an IPM is an “ecosystem-based strategy that focuses on long-term prevention of pests through a combination of techniques.

With IPM, you take actions such as growing a healthy crop that can withstand pest attacks or caulking cracks which prevent insects from entering.”

“In their natural environment there are predators to keep the insects under control, such as animals that eat them or parasites that invade their bodies and kill them,” said Dr. Wallace. “Those predators do not necessarily exist in the United States.”

The PDA is asking the residents of Monroe County to help in spotting this invading alien. As shown in the photo, the adult Spotted Lanternfly is adorned in colorful shades of red, yellow, gray and black.

“The Spotted Lanternfly is a plant hopper. It does not sting, but if it lands on you, it might probe you to see if you are a plant,” Dr. Wallace stated.

John Baker, Spotted Lanternfly Project Coordinator at the PDA in Harrisburg stated in an email that any reported sightings of Spotted Lanternfly or Spotted Lanternfly eggs should be reported to their invasive species hotline: 1-866-253-7189 or to their email: Badbug@pa.gov.

For more information about the Spotted Lanternfly you can go to the PDA website:

http://www.agriculture.pa.gov/Protect/PlantIndustry/spotted_lanternfly/Pages/default.aspx

Email Peggy at:
mdiaco@po-box.esu.edu

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