Spotted lanternfly seen in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Virginia

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Tuesday, September 18, 2018
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Spotted lanternfly seen in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Virginia. Vernon Odom reports during Action News at 6 p.m. on September 17, 2018.

PENNSBURG, Pa. (WPVI) -- Parts of the tristate area are currently under an invasion by the spotted lanternfly and this enemy has declared war.

The invaders are small, but they do a lot of damage. They are from Asia, specifically China, Vietnam and Bangladesh, a genuine pest.

They started descending on Scott Radmon's Perkasie home in late summer.

"Covered my one window out back, I've been killing them every day. They keep on coming. They're in spider webs and everything," he said.

The spotted lanternfly was first detected in Berks County in 2014, the result of shipping from Asia.

They're hitchhikers and are now in more than a dozen southeastern Pennsylvania counties. They've also been spotted in New Jersey and Virginia.

They love the sap found in the seeds of the tree known as the tree of heaven, seen here in Montgomery County.

Penn State horticulturist Emilie Swackhammer says the lanternfly's eggs are laid on any solid surface, trees, posts, stones, and buildings in the fall.

New adults emerging in July and dying with the onset of winter.

"It sucks the sap out of trees, weakening the trees. It's a problem for the long-term, health of tree but also the quality of fruit products like grapes," said Swackhammer.

The spotted lanternfly is now under quarantine but the zone is expected to expand if travelers are not on guard.

"You can scrape and destroy their egg masses during the winter. You can put sticky bands around trees to capture them. You can smash them with fly swatters and vacuum them up, and there are insecticides and pesticides that work," added Swackhammer.

The immediate goal is to protect hi-value crop areas, especially fruit like grapes and the maple syrup regions from here in Pennsylvania all the way up to New England.


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