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Beautiful Invader Prompts Pennsylvania Quarantine

Nov 04, 2014 11:09 AM EST
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If you ever get the opportunity to see a Spotted Lanternfly mid-flight, you're in for a treat. The impressive wing patterns of this tiny insect can be rather beautiful. However, seeing one is very bad news if you're in the United States, as this bug beauty is really an invasive pest that is currently threatening Pennsylvania.

On Monday, Pennsylvanian officials quarantined the Berks County townships of Pike and District in an effort to contain the invasion of Lycorma delicatula, the Spotted Lanternfly, whose nymphs threaten the health of a great number of fruit and pine trees.

This relatively large crophopper is native to China, India, Japan and Vietnam, where it has its own natural predators and controls to keep it in check. However, it has already made a name for itself as a difficult-to-rid invasive species, ravaging fruit trees in Korea, where pesticides do little to slow down its destructive rate of reproduction. Now it has moved to the United States, prompting worry and valiance among the agricultural community.

"Since this is new to the country we are taking every precaution possible," PA Department of Agriculture (PDA) Secretary George Greig said in a statement. "We need to do everything we can to stop the spread of the Spotted Lanternfly."

The invader was first identified by the PDA, in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, last September. Since then, they have been making tentative plans for the quarantine, which is now in effect. The movement of materials such as firewood, wood products and outdoor equipment has been restricted under the threat of a heavy fine.

The hope is to stall the spread of the insect, whose nymphs pose "a significant threat to the state's more than $20.5 million grape, nearly $134 million apple, and more than $24 million stone fruit industries," according to the PDA's office.

Greig added that the first line of defense comes with everyday citizens confirming that the insect has spread and is reproducing.

"Berks County is the front line in the war against Spotted Lanternfly," he declared. "Help us by looking for adult insects and their egg clusters on your trees, cars, outside furniture - any flat surface that the eggs may be attached to."

You can learn how to identify, report, and rid yourself of a lanternfly egg-clutch here.

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