EDWARDSVILLE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU)—There’s something hopping and flying around yards throughout northeastern Pennsylvania.
Those insects are the invasive spotted lanternfly.
A Luzerne County man found hundreds of them in his backyard and reached out to Eyewitness News for help.
Mark Margavage owns a home in Edwardsville, a property filled with a backyard of fruit-bearing bushes he eats.
This week, Margavage noticed a black-spotted insect, later finding out it was the spotted lanternfly, and there were hundreds in his yard.
The invasive species is native to parts of southeast Asia, first discovered in PA back in 2014.
“I just hope that the public becomes more aware of how damaging these things are to the crops in Pennsylvania. They attack over 70 different species,” Margavage told Eyewitness News.
The insect can destroy plants and crops by sucking the sap out, damaging it.
Margavage said he immediately contacted the Penn State Extension and the Department of Agriculture, frustrated by their answer.
“They want the property owners, me, to deal with this. It’s way beyond what I can deal with. I can kill them, which I’ve done,” Margavage said.
He said when he kills them there are more on the plants the next day, and he hopes for a more proactive response from those studying them.
“We need the county, we need the state to come in and create a strike force to target these infestation areas so that it doesn’t cost Pennsylvania’s economy that much in damages. We’re already struggling the way it is, we don’t need this,” he said.
Eyewitness News spoke with an expert who said it’s helpful to report them, but they can’t stop the invasive species from spreading from one property to another.
“The reality is, we don’t have a really area-wide management strategy right now. We’re still working to try and get to that,” said Amy Korman, a horticulture Extension educator at the Penn State Extension.
Korman said the best way to get rid of them, for now, is to trap or squash them.
“If one kills one, that means there’s one less spotted lanternfly to reproduce,” explained Korman.
And one less headache for homeowners like Margavage.
“This is completely irrational to me that the state doesn’t have a strike force to come out and squish these things,” Margavage concluded.
You can report sightings of the Spotted Lanterflies using the online reporting tool or by calling 1-888-4BAD-FLY.