Beautiful tiny creature poses a huge threat

Beautiful tiny creature poses a huge threat

Outdoors

Beautiful tiny creature poses a huge threat

The spotted lanternfly is beautiful in its coloring and shape, but its destructive nature has officials battling to keep the tiny creature from spreading across the U.S.

Populations of the invasive species have been confirmed in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia and New Jersey, and now a single individual of the species has been confirmed in the state of Maryland, according to the Maryland Department of Agriculture.

A single adult spotted lanternfly was found in a trap near the borders of Pennsylvania and Delaware making it the first confirmed sighting of the pest in Maryland.

The spotted lanternfly, no bigger than an inch long and native to China, India and Vietnam, poses a major threat to agriculture since it feeds on over 70 different types of plants and crops, including grapes, hops, apples, peaches, oak and pine.

“The spotted lanternfly has been on our radar since Pennsylvania’s first sighting in 2014,” said Maryland Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “The Maryland Department of Agriculture’s Plant Protection and Weed Management Program and our partners have been proactively monitoring for spotted lanternfly across the state in an effort to keep the destructive pest from establishing a population in Maryland. By staying ahead of the spotted lanternfly we can keep our farmers’ crops and the state’s agricultural industries safe.”

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Luckily this one was male and it was found at the end of the season, which means it did not produce any egg masses in the state, said Kim Rice, the department’s Plant Protection and Weed Management Program Manager.

“It is extremely important that businesses, agricultural operations, farmers, and homeowners in Maryland, especially in Cecil County, are aware of this pest, its potential consequences, and how to identify it,” Rice said. “Early detection is key to stopping the spotted lanternfly from spreading.”

Maryland officials don’t believe the spotted lanternfly has established a population in their state and they’re doing everything in their power to prevent that from happening. The MDA will continue to conduct surveys and visual inspections for spotted lanternfly egg masses through the fall and winter in tree-of-heaven, the species’ preferred tree to feed on.

Thus far there is no spotted lanternfly quarantine for businesses or homeowners in Maryland.

Photo courtesy of Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.  

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