An isolated pocket of Spotted Lanternfly found in Allentown is cause for vigilance, not alarm, said Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding.
Allentown is one of eight municipalities under a new quarantine order: Whitehall, South Whitehall, Upper Saucon, and Lower Milford Townships in Lehigh County, and Lower Pottsgrove, Upper Frederick, and Marlborough in Montgomery County.
“We haven’t found evidence of a major infestation of Spotted Lanternfly in Allentown, but because we’ve found it here, we need citizens to help us to identify the pockets it may exist in, but more importantly, we need everyone to ensure that they aren’t accidentally transporting the insect,” said Redding.
The Spotted Lanternfly is an inch-long black, red and white spotted pest and is native to China, India, Japan and Vietnam. It is an invasive species in Korea, where it has attacked 25 plant species that also grow in Pennsylvania. The pest had not been found in the United States prior to its initial detection in Berks County in the fall of 2014.
In the fall, adults lay egg masses on nearly any flat surface, which can include outdoor furniture, equipment, stone, block and outsides and undersides of vehicles.
“Spotted Lanternflies are rather weak fliers, so the easiest way to spread them is by moving them ourselves,” Redding added. “This means that whenever you drive somewhere or transport items, we’re asking you to look before you leave. Comprehensively check your vehicle and cargo to make sure you aren’t packing this pest.”
Each egg mass contains 35-50 young Spotted Lanternflies. If you see eggs on trees or other smooth outdoor surfaces, scrape them off, double bag them and throw them in the garbage, or place the eggs in alcohol or hand sanitizer to kill them.
Redding stressed that residents inside the quarantine zone should simply destroy any specimens they find – there is no need to report the insect.
But if you live outside the quarantined zone and find a specimen, first, place the sample in alcohol or hand sanitizer in a leak proof container. Then, submit the specimen to your county Penn State Extension office or to the department’s Entomology Lab for verification. Don’t move live specimens around. There are many places in the quarantine that do not have active populations of spotted lanternfly – don’t help them establish a new home base. Look before you leave.
The general quarantine of these infested areas restricts movement of any material or object that can spread the pest. This includes firewood or wood products, brush or yard waste, remodeling or construction materials and waste, packing material like boxes, grapevines for decorative purposes or as nursery stock, and any outdoor household articles like lawnmowers, grills, tarps and other equipment, trucks or vehicles typically not stored indoors.
Until the city is cleared by the Department of Agriculture, no yard waste material from the city's yard waste site may leave the city. Allentown residents may take mulch or wood provided it stays within the city limits. i.e., taking firewood to go camping outside the city is prohibited.
The quarantine now includes:
• Berks County: Alsace, Amity, Colebrookdale, Douglass, District, Douglass, Earl, Exeter, Hereford, Longswamp, Maxatawny, Oley, Pike, Rockland and Washington townships, and the boroughs of Bally, Bechtelsville, Boyertown, Kutztown, Lyons, St. Lawrence and Topton.
• Bucks County: Milford Township and Trumbauersville Borough.
• Chester County: South Coventry Township.
• Lehigh County: Allentown, Upper Saucon, Lower Macungie, Upper Macungie, Upper Milford, Lower Milford, Whitehall, and South Whitehall townships, and the boroughs of Alburtis, Emmaus and Macungie.
• Montgomery County: Douglass, Marlborough, New Hanover, Upper Hanover, Upper Frederick, Lower Pottsgrove and West Pottsgrove townships, and the boroughs of East Greenville, Pennsburg and Red Hill.
Residents can help with this eradication effort. Visit the department website to access the “Spotted Lanternfly Quarantine Checklist” or contact a local municipality or extension office. The checklist provides guidelines for inspecting vehicles and other items stored outdoors, each time they are moved out of the quarantine area. Businesses in the general quarantine area may need to obtain a Phytosanitary Certificate from the department in order to move articles. Local Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture inspection staff can work with businesses to ensure that they are complying with quarantine restrictions.
If you take a photo, submit photo of adults or egg masses to email@example.com. If you want to report a site, call the Invasive Species report line at 1-866-253-7189 and provide any details of the sighting and your contact information.
Suspect specimens can also be submitted directly to the department’s headquarters in Harrisburg or to any of its six regional offices. Specimens can also be submitted to county Penn State Extension offices as well. For more information about the Spotted Lanternfly, visit www.agriculture.pa.gov and look under “Hot Topics” for Spotted Lanternfly.