The insect scourge of southeastern Pennsylvania, the Spotted Lanternfly, has been been confirmed in Allegheny County in the city of Pittsburgh, North Versailles, and Monroeville, Wall, and Wilmerding Boroughs, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
Experts are hoping a quarantine, and vigilant citizens, could prevent a widespread outbreak in these western counties.
Planthoppers on the Move
The pests have devastated grapes and other crops in southeastern counties. Thousands can invade a vine or tree, sucking out the sap, and then raining down a sticky substance called honey dew. It can make being outside unpleasant for people, and encourages a sooty black mold on plants.
Spotted Lanternflies are planthoppers, and are believed to be moving west by hopping on, and even laying eggs on, trucks, trains and other vehicles. The state expanded a quarantine earlier this year, to include Allegheny and Beaver, and ten central counties, which means businesses that transport goods through or within these counties now need a permit to avoid spreading them.
Identifying Spotted Lanternflies in Early July
Penn State extension educator Sandy Feather says Lanternflies at this point in the summer, are still in a nymph stage. “Probably the majority of them are still black, with white dots on them,” she said, noting that their appearance will change. “As we go through July, they’re going to turn mostly red, with some black on them, and white spots.” They will eventually turn into winged insects in the coming months.
Feather suggests that people who see them, kill them with a fly swatter or by banding trees with a trap.
The state asks residents to call a hotline at 1-888-4-BAD-FLY to report sightings or report it HERE.