BOYERTOWN PA – Volunteers committed to help eradicate the spotted lanternfly, a destructive insect pest that threatens to destroy hardwood and fruit trees in Montgomery and Berks counties and elsewhere across Pennsylvania, are scheduled to be trained in that task today (Saturday, April 15, 2017) from noon to 2 p.m. in the Center at Spring Street, 200 W. Spring St. The session is free to attend and open to the public.
With warm weather approaching, the department is seeking volunteers to place sticky bands on Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) trees to kill adult insects that live on them. Penn State Extension educators will train volunteers to recognize and to help eliminate the insects. They also will be equipped with tree-banding supplies.
“Spotted lanternfly has the potential to devastate Pennsylvania’s grape harvests, and damage hops, nursery plants, fruit trees, and hardwoods,” state Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “Our staff and partners are working hard to eradicate the insects and limit their spread, but volunteers can magnify those efforts significantly.”
- In western Montgomery County, Lower, Upper and West Pottsgrove, New Hanover, Douglass, Limerick Township, and Upper Providence townships, and the boroughs of Pottstown and Royersford all have been placed under a spotted lanternfly quarantine. The quarantine restricts movement of materials or objects that can spread the pest by transporting egg masses.
The spotted lanternfly is an inch-long, black, red and white spotted pest 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 first U.S. detection of the pest was in Berks County in late 2014, shortly before the department began to coordinate efforts to eradicate it.
Once egg masses hatch in mid-May, insects hop or crawl from one woody plant to another until reaching the Tree of Heaven, their preferred food source. Grapevines, fruit trees, nursery plants and hardwoods in infested areas are susceptible to damage.
Photo from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture