By Kaylee Lindenmuth
If you’re not from southeastern Pennsylvania and new to KU, you may not know what the grey-and-red planthoppers around campus are or what problems they pose for Pennsylvania.
Spotted lanternflies, an insect native to Southeast Asia, were first spotted in the U.S. in District Township, about 11 miles southeast of Kutztown. Since then, the bug has spread throughout the Poconos, Coal Region and southeastern Pennsylvania as well as parts of New Jersey and Maryland.
According to Penn State Extension, which is working in conjunction with the PA Department of Agriculture to stop the bug’s spread, the bug threatens Pennsylvania’s grape, tree-fruit, hardwood, nursery and landscaping industries, which they say are worth nearly $18 billion annually.
The Department of Agriculture issued a quarantine for 14 Pennsylvania counties—Berks, Lebanon, Lehigh, Dauphin, Schuylkill, Carbon, Monroe, Northampton, Lancaster, Chester, Philadelphia, Montgomery and Bucks—regulating movements of plants, plant-based materials and outdoor household items out of the quarantine zone.
For the past few years, spotted lanternflies have been prominent on campus.
“We are working diligently with the PA Dept. of Agriculture (PDA) to provide local treatment in an attempt to prevent the proliferation of this pest,” said KU Director of Communications Bryan Salvadore in an email. “However, for the treatments to be effective, they will need to be in effect for several gestation cycles. As a result, the SLF is currently present in significant numbers around campus. In their adult, flying stage they are a nuisance, but they are harmless.”
With students from areas as far as Hazleton and York in Pennsylvania and Newark, Del., officials worry students or their families could inadvertently spread the pest elsewhere.
“Because we have such a transient population, it is important we do our part to prevent further spread of this pest,” said Salvadore. “If driving off campus, and especially if driving into a non-quarantined area, please check your vehicle for any uninvited hitchhikers (SLF) and remove them.”
Salvadore also relayed information from the PDA if the bug is spotted.
“Squash it, smash it…just get rid of it. In the fall, these bugs will lay egg masses with 30-50 eggs each,” Salvadore said. “These are called bad bugs for a reason. Don’t let them take over your county next.”
More information about the spotted lanternfly is available at the Penn State Extension’s website: http://www.extension.psu.edu/spotted-lanternfly.