WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Spotted lanternflies, a type of invasive insect originally from Asia are hatching across Pennsylvania and wrecking havoc on the local ecosystem.
A quarantine was put in place earlier this year in areas with active infestations like Luzerne, Carbon, and Monroe Counties. In Lackawanna County, at least one individual was found but that doesn’t necessarily mean there is an infestation.
“Where they find a spotted lanternfly but don’t find an active infestation, it’s because spotted lanternfly were carried there,” Amy Korean, an educator at Penn State told Eyewitness News. “The reason why we have the problem that we do with spotted lanternfly is because this insect is a phenomenal hitch hiker.”
They can “hitchhike” as egg masses or nymph while adults can travel by hopping on vehicles. Currently, the spotted lanternflies are in their immature phase and cannot yet fly. But Korman says it’s important to eradicate the bug in all phases because it’s an invasive species that is impacting our agriculture. While they can’t kill trees by themselves, they can contribute to factors that result in flora death.
“The more that the insects are feeding on the trees, and the more stressed trees become then they become more succeptible to pathogens and other insect infestations in the environment,” Korman said.
The bugs also produce a sugary secretion called honeydew which is damaging to plants.
“When honeydew covers the leaves of plants, it causes mold to grow on plants so that inhibits photosynthesis,” Korman explained.
A report published in December states the economic impact of spotted lanternflies on agriculture and forestry is estimated at about $50 million per year with a loss of 484 jobs.
Korman reccomends, reporting sightings of the species by calling the spotted lanternfly hotline. She also says people should check their vehicles while traveling through quarantine zones. Another option is getting rid of them just like any other bug.
“Some people trap them using, they might put sticky traps or tape on trees. Or they might use an other device called a circle trap on trees to catch, collect and destroy them. Some people just swat them,” Korman said.
Korman says the important thing is for people to do whatever they can to get rid of the bugs.