There is a new invasive species in the Mid-Atlantic region and it could cause some major problems for our farmers, brewers and vignerons come spring of 2019.
This new invader is called the Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula). Originally found in China, India and Vietnam, this invasive species was first discovered in Pennsylvania four years ago (2014). Since its initial discovery, the Spotted Lanternfly has spread to several neighboring states including Delaware, New Jersey, Virginia, New York and most recently Maryland.
Similar to the recent Brown Marmorated Stink Bug outbreak and the Emerald Ash Borer invasion in 2002, these foreign species are introduced to new regions through international trade routes. However, unlike the stinkbug and the emerald Ash Bore, the Spotted Lanternfly poses a direct threat to our economic and agricultural industry. Threats such as damaging the viticulture (grape/wine) industry, fruit tree orchards and the timber industry. The impact is so severe, several states have enacted transportation bans on produce and materials leaving the quarantine zones in an attempt to slow the Lanternfly’s spread. Without the presence of a natural predator to suppress the Lanternfly's population, these insects are allowed to reproduce and thrive unchecked.
When reproducing, the Lanternfly will opt to lay its eggs on smooth vertical surfaces such as, trees, stones, firewood, or metal poles. Other potential spawning locations could include vehicles, houses, outdoor furniture, and other equipment for yard and house work. The egg masses laid by the Lanternfly resemble an unsightly grayish brown smear of mud or clay. As the masses collect, they can become a nuisance when laid on undesirable surfaces such as our houses and vehicles. After being laid, these eggs will lay dormant through the winter months and hatch in the spring as the temperatures begin to warm.
As you take out lawn furniture and tools stored away for the winter, or go for a roadtrip through the Lanternfly's territory, take an extra precautionary step and give your vehicles, furniture and tools a once over to look for the Lanternfly’s egg mass. Hitching a free ride is one of the insects main methods of travel. If an egg mass is discovered, they can be easily removed. Being careful not to damage your furniture or vehicle, you can use an old rag or edged tool to scrape the mass off from the surface they were laid on. This will effectively kill the egg mass and slow their reproduction. Every mass removed before the spring will help reduce next year’s population.
If you spend a lot of time in the woods or are getting ready for spring cleaning, please try to take an extra few minutes to be on the lookout for this new species. If you think you may have discovered a Lanternfly, or its egg mass and you are outside of the current states affected, you can collect the specimen or egg mass in a plastic bag and report it to your local Department of Natural Resources. By actively taking part in the monitoring and eliminating of this species, you are greatly supporting your local farmers and your greater community.