PA Dept. Of Agriculture: “If You See It, Squash It”

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HARRISBURG, PA. (ErieNewsNow) – If you see it, squash it. That’s the message the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has for residents if they happen to stumble across a Spotted Lanternfly

The Spotted Lanternfly is an inch-long black, red, and white insect native to southeast Asia and first identified in Pennsylvania in 2014. The invasive insect feeds on agricultural commodities produced in the state such as grapes, tree fruit, and hardwoods.

The invasive insect is raising concern as it spreads from southeast and central Pennsylvania.

Officials are urging residents to do everything they can to help stop the colorful, but damaging insect.

The Spotted Lanternfly is harmless to people, but can cause big problems for plants and trees.

“Lanternflies make a huge mess on everything outside because they take in huge quantities of sap, they don’t use it all they just shoot it back out,” said Spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture, Shannon Powers.

The excess discharge of the lanternfly is what entomologists call “honeydew.”

“It basically smothers the plants, it blocks photosynthesis,” said Powers.

They also pose a significant threat to certain agricultural products, especially grapevines.

A recent economic impact study estimates, if uncontrolled, the insect could cost the state $324 million annually and over 2,800 jobs.

This time of year, is when they lay 30-50 eggs which will hatch next spring, unless destroyed. And that’s exactly what officials are asking residents to do.

Egg masses are a light-grey wax-like substance most likely to be found on flat surfaces like trees, rocks, picnic tables, grills, or even the siding of your home.

“Every spotted lanternfly egg mass not destroyed is 50 more next spring, that’s scary,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding.

Powers says all Pennsylvanians can help destroy egg masses, from children playing in the yard, to hunters in the woods this season.

“You can scrape them off with anything stiff, like a blade or a credit card,” said Powers.

Officials are also asking residents to be mindful when traveling to or from areas that have a higher concentration of the Spotted Lanternfly, by checking their vehicles. They also say to look for egg masses on delivered items like timber, rocks, and other outdoor goods.

The best way to destroy an egg mass is simply squashing it.

“The easiest and best way is to squish those eggs. Make sure there are no viable eggs left,” said Powers.

The Department of Agriculture also has a toolkit to help business stop the spread of the bug.

You can also call 1-888-4BAD-FLY to report a Spotted Lanternfly, or report it online.


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