Farm Progress

PA gets $1.5 million to quash first spotted lanternfly invasion

Pennsylvania gets $1.5 million from USDA to eradicate the spotted lanternfly invasion before it spreads to Northeast grapes, orchards and hardwoods.

April 1, 2015

2 Min Read
NEWST BAD BUG: Federal funds will Pennsylvania address the invading spotted lanternfly, found for the first time in this country in eastern Pennsylvania. Red underwings make it easier to identify.

Last week, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture announced receipt of $1.4 million from USDA to stem the spotted lanternfly invasion, discovered for the first time in the United States last fall in Berks County, Pa.

The inch-long black, red and white spotted pest is no fly. It's actually a planthopper referred to as "spot clothing wax cicada". The spotted lanternfly feeds on vines, fruit trees, ornamental trees and woody trees. Apples, birch, cherry, dogwood, grapes, lilac, maple, poplar and stone fruits are among more than 70 species of hosts attacked by the pest.

If not eradicated, it poses a huge threat in the Northeast alone. The insect could severely impact the state's grape, fruit tree, ornamental and hardwood industries. It attacks 25 plant species that grow in Pennsylvania including apples, birch, cherry, dogwoods, grapes, lilac, maple, poplar and stone fruits

The state's Ag Department will use nearly $1.4 million to hire survey crews and assist in eradication efforts in the six Berks County townships.

More than $122,000 in additional funding has been targeted for federal research on pathways for pest introduction, pesticide efficacy and developing monitoring and control tactics. Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences will receive more than $27,000 to study lanternfly impact on the grape industry and to develop control solutions for growers plus another $30,500 for outreach and Extension programming. Kutztown University will receive more than $13,000 to study the North American host range and the insect's seasonal occurrence.

Part of a bigger USDA funding package
The USDA grant to stem the spotted lanternfly invasion was part of a $2.777-million fund allocation to also address diseases affecting honeybees and other threats such as boxwood blight, thousand cankers disease and the walnut twig beetle that carries it, plus the Asian giant hornet. Other money will support outreach and survey efforts for orchards, grapes and other industry segments.

"When we fight invasive species in Pennsylvania, we aren't just working to safeguard our agriculture industry, but the industry in neighboring states and across the country," says Pennsylvania's Acting Ag Secretary Russell Redding. "We appreciate the support USDA has given us, particularly to combat the spotted lanternfly, as these programs will help agriculture across our nation and around the globe."

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