First the bad news:
Lycorma delicatula, commonly known as the Spotted Lanternfly (SLF), is a new invasive insect that has spread throughout southeastern Pennsylvania since its discovery in Berks County in 2014. SLF presents a significant threat to Pennsylvania agriculture, including the grape, tree-fruit, hardwood and nursery industries, which collectively are worth nearly $18 billion to the state's economy.
Then the good news:
We should not be leaving the response to this problem to government alone. Landowners need to destroy the invasive exotic ailanthus tree, also known as the tree of heaven. Although SLF will feed on other trees and plants, all life stages strongly prefer tree of heaven, and adult SLF seem to require a meal from these trees prior to laying eggs, although this has not been proven yet through research. This provides an opportunity to concentrate the SLF population on a property by performing host tree reduction. This method involves removal or killing most tree of heaven on an infested property while leaving a few to serve as trap trees. Trap trees are treated with an insecticide which controls the insect once it feeds on the tree.
While waiting for federal, state, and local agency responses, this is an opportunity to mobilize citizen science to detect and help us contain the infestation. Take advantage of the relative ease of recognition of both the pest and Ailanthus at all stages. Engage school science teachers at all levels in teaching recognition and reporting. Engage garden clubs, friends of parks groups, churches, neighborhood associations, and civic organizations, as well as landscapers and nursery employees, in getting the word out. We need as many eyeballs as possible looking for this pest and keeping it contained. Treat it as a regional issue and coordinate among mid-Atlantic states, not just as Pennsylvania’s problem.
If we are not successful, not only will Pennsylvania face quarantines, the U.S. could face quarantines because Canada, South America, Mexico, and Europe are watching.
Recognizing the increasing threat invasive species pose to Pennsylvania’s economy and people, Gov. Tom Wolf announced an additional step to complement recent bipartisan legislation to help battle bad bugs and out-of-control plants.
Wolf signed an executive order expanding the Governor’s Invasive Species Council to bring additional expertise and resources to bear in the battle against new invasive species, such as the spotted lanternfly. The council will expand from 10 to 14 members to pave the way for adding representatives of county and municipal governments, conservation districts and the transportation sector. State Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding will continue to serve as the council’s chairman.
Wolf’s new order follows his signing of the Controlled Plants and Noxious Weeds Act in October. The new law took effect on Dec. 29. Act 46 repeals the previous noxious weed law in favor of a more proactive approach to control existing and potentially noxious weeds while maximizing resources to control invasive species and protect state lands.
People in areas that haven't seen the pest in the past should report lanternfly sightings to state agriculture officials.