|Adult Spotted Lanternfly|
They are asleep for the winter in ugly little egg cases that look like splotches of dried mud plastered on all manner of smooth outdoor surfaces. They are found on trees, park benches, decks, walls, cars and rocks.
Experts believe that the latter, stone shipped from somewhere in its native China, was the vehicle on which the invasive spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) first hitched a ride to Pennsylvania a little more than three years ago.
|late stage nymph Spotted Lanternfly|
Since the lanternfly’s arrival, agricultural agencies and extension offices have been sounding the alarm and asking for help in reporting it and killing it, hoping to stave off its spread to other states in the Bay watershed. Important crops in the region at risk include apples, peaches and grape vines, as well as hardwoods such as maples, walnuts and some pine.
Come spring, the destructive sugar-water-excreting leafhoppers will emerge as nymphs and feed on crops, trees and vines, puncturing the stalks and trunks to suck out phloem – the tissue that conveys sugars and other nutrients down from the leaves. The insects’ excrement, called honeydew, is like that of aphids, but more plentiful; it attracts sooty mold and borers, which together snuff out what life is left in the weakened fruit tree, maple or grape vine.
In the half-dozen hardest hit southeastern Pennsylvania counties, orchardists and vintners are trying to keep up with the scourge, and suburban residents say their neighborhoods are covered in goo.
|Spotted Lanternfly infestation|
. . . controlling the spread of spotted lanternfly hasn’t been successful so far. The state quarantined six towns at first; by November, it included 13 counties. Industries and individuals in quarantined counties need a permit from the state agriculture department to move an extensive list of items from the area, basically anything where egg masses could be attached – including firewood.
|Tree of Heaven|
Although the only confirmed infestations are in southeastern and central Pennsylvania, one live adult has been found in Delaware and a dead one was reported in New York. Maryland, which borders Chester and Lancaster counties, appears to be next in line.We have Tree of Heaven wild down here, so I suspect that it's only a matter of time until we get the Spotted Lanternfly.
“We are 100 percent certain that they will be in Maryland, probably by spring,” Strathmeyer said. “We have been working with other states for the last three years. Our conversations have been a little more intense lately because it is spreading.”