Digital Exclusive: New Counties Under Spotted Lanternfly Quarantine

Digital Exclusive

WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) This year, there are new additions to the list of counties in the quarantine zone that aims to stop the spread of Spotted Lanternflies. Business owners who transport goods through Luzerne, Columbia, and Northumberland counties now will have to get a Spotted Lanternfly permit.

“All it is is a free test, you go online, take the test and demonstrate that you know how to recognize Spotted Lanternfly and not take it with you when you go,” Powers said.

Press Secretary Shannon Powers, with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, says the Spotted Lanternfly is an invasive species that excretes honeydew, a sticky substance that coats plants and causes them to mold and block photosynthesis.

“So it’s killing the plants it’s basically pooping all over,” Powers said.

Experts say the insect migrates with the help of people by hitching a ride on their vehicles. Spotted Lanternflies aren’t dangerous to human health, but their effect on plants affects our economy.

“Penn state just issued a study just recently that it threatens to suck $324 million from our economy every year and threatens 2,800 jobs,” Powers said.

Powers says they have a high annoyance factor, affecting industries that depend on the outdoors. The Spotted Lantern flies were discovered in berks county in 2014. Heather Kerr used to work as a service forester in Southeast Pennsylvania and says they were everywhere there.

“All the time. In the forest, in people’s yards, in their shrubs. My phone was, I was getting constant calls from home owners and land owners about the bug,” Kerr said.

Since they’re now spreading, experts say it’s important for the public to recognize the insects and their egg mass.

“The egg mass looks like a splattering of mud. But again, because they’re attracted to any smooth surface that egg mass could be underneath your kid’s swingset, underneath your grill, on the side of your house,” Kerr said.

“You can scrape them off and squish the eggs inside. Each egg mass is 30 to 50 eggs that won’t hatch in the spring if you squish them now,” Powers said.

Powers says the areas in Luzerne County have already been surveyed and the insects have been isolated. But if you notice Spotted Lanternfly egg masses, or the insects themselves, call 1-888-4BAD-FLY.

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