July 11, 2019. Our porgram featured Easton Rotarian Amy Korman who told us about the spotted lanternfly. This notorious pest surfaced in Berks County and has since spread to several other states including New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia.
The invasive bug is native to Asia and was introduced to South Korea around the recent turn of the century. The creature's lifespan has several stages including egg, early nymph, late nymph, and adult. The eggs hatch around April and the lifecycle ends with the first heavy frosts. The early stage is small and looks somewhat like a tick. The adult features large wings that are strikingly colored when open, yet drab and spotted when closed. They are capable of flight but generally prefer to hop and move about like grasshoppers.
They are harmless to humans and are not known to carry any pathogens. The adult insects feed on the sap from trees. This can lead to oozing, wilting and curling leaves, and possible death of saplings. The waste products created by the bugs coat the plant life beneath the trees and forms a sooty mold which interferes with photosynthesis; thereby killing the plants. Collectively these pests have a potentially large negative economic impact on Pennsylvania. Our home state is the #1 exporter of hardwoods in the country. PA also ranks high in the production of apples, peaches, and grapes. All of these are favorite targets.
The lanternfly population has been able to grow and spread because they are easily transported. They lay eggs on practically anything and are often relocated with loads of firewood, lawn furniture, flowerpots, cars, and trailers. The PA Department of Agriculture and other organizations are investigating ways to stop the spread. People travelling to or from infested regions, including our own, are asked to "look before you leave". They recommend scraping egg masses into bags and disposing of them. Insecticides can also be effective. More information is available at www.extension.psu.edu/spotted-lanternfly or call 1-888-4BAD-FLY.