First found in Pennsylvania in Berks County four years ago, the spotted lanternfly – an invasive insect native to China, India, and Vietnam – is now creating havoc across the state, writes Claire Sasko for Philadelphia magazine.
Despite attempts to quarantine it by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the lanternfly is becoming a regional pest that threatens to spread nationally.
The fly feeds on more than 65 species of plants, making it a threat to timber, tree fruit, grapes, stone fruits, and berry production. Now, researchers believe it can also kill hops, potentially threatening regional beer and wine production.
Researchers at Penn State are doing an expansive study funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on its potential harm. Already, they have confirmed that the state’s multibillion-dollar grape and wine industries are at risk.
“There is a lot we don’t know about the pest’s basic biology and ecology,” said Erica Smyers, head of the project. “Once we better understand these aspects, we will be able to develop better traps and tools to manage these insects in and around the vineyard.”
Read more about the spotted lanternfly in Philadelphia magazine here.