Saturday, October 20, 2018

Unwanted Immigrant - The Spotted Lanternfly

Credit: Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
"An invasive insect species native to China, India and Vietnam is posing a problem in at least two states" reports Fox News. "The spotted lanternfly is harming crops in Winchester, Virginia", and has been spotted in Pennsylvania. Apparently, the pest was observed in Pennsylvania as early as 2014. 
According to the USDA, "spotted lanternfly feeds on a wide range of fruit, ornamental and woody trees, with tree-of-heaven being one of the preferred hosts. Spotted lanternflies are invasive and can be spread long distances by people who move infested material or items containing egg masses. If allowed to spread in the United States, this pest could seriously impact the country’s grape, orchard, and logging industries."
  • Inspect your trees and plants for signs of this pest, particularly at dusk and at night when the insects tend to gather in large groups on the trunks or stems of plants.
  • Inspect trees (in particular, tree of heaven), bricks, stone, and other smooth surfaces for egg masses.
  • If you find an insect that you suspect is the spotted lanternfly, please contact your local Extension office or State Plant Regulatory Official to have the specimen identified properly.
  • Locate the Extension specialist near you
  • Contact your State Plant Regulatory Official 
If you live in Pennsylvania, an interactive plant pest quarantine map is provided to see if you’re in the spotted lanternfly quarantine.

As noted, spotted lanternfly is particularly attracted to "tree of heaven." Ironically, "tree of heaven" is not heavenly at all. According to the Nature Conservancy, "It is a prolific seed producer and can thrive in even the most unfavorable conditions with little management. Its rapid growth also means that it can crowd out nearby native plant species, and its aggressive root system can cause damage to pavement, sewers and building foundations."

It also attracts spotted lanternfly, which can be a bad thing or good. The bad thing is that it's a host plant for the little creatures. The good thing is that, as a spotted lanternfly magnet, a whole gathering can be eliminated in one place.
I guess those "No matter where you are from, we're glad you're our neighbor" yard signs don't actually apply to all.
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