Officials: Destroy the Spotted Lanternfly

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (WPVI) -- "We were invaded by this past, an unwelcome past by the way, last fall," Pennsylvania State Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said Tuesday.

Redding is talking about the Spotted Lanternfly, just the most recent invasive bug species from overseas to show up in Pennsylvania by way of international commerce.

Horticultural experts across Pennsylvania say the Spotted Lanternfly is of particular concern here because they feast on grapevines, apple trees, stone fruit trees, and pine trees, all of which are big business in the Keystone State.

"Pennsylvania is a leader in the country for timber production and we have quite a large grape industry and we have orchards, so it definitely has been introduced to a sensitive area," Emelie Swackhamer, Penn State Extension Educator, said.

So far, it's believed the pest has been contained to Berks County where state officials and volunteers have destroyed approximately 100,000 eggs, nymphs, and full-grown Spotted Lanternflies over the past several months.

Still, people in Lehigh and Montgomery counties are being asked to keep an eye out for these destructive bugs.

That goes double for Malachi Duffy.

Duffy is the co-owner of Vynecrest Vineyards and Winery in Upper Macungie, Lehigh County, just a few miles east of where these bugs were first discovered.

"When the information first came out we were kind of wondering what to do. We're still wondering. We haven't found it yet, we keep looking," Duffy said.

Anyone who finds Spotted Lanternflies in any stage of development is being instructed to destroy them, take a photo of them if possible, and then contact the State Department of Agriculture at (717) 787-4737.
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