Spotted Lanternfly quarantine areas increase across Valley
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has added 21 municipalities in Lehigh, Northampton, Berks, Bucks and Montgomery counties to the areas quarantined due to the presence of the invasive insect Spotted Lanternfly. The quarantine was already in effect for parts of those five counties as well as Chester County.
The quarantine now covers the following Lehigh Valley municipalities:
Lehigh County: Whitehall, Heidelberg, Lower Macungie, Lower Milford, Lowhill, Salisbury, South Whitehall, Upper Macungie, Upper Milford, Upper Saucon and Weisenberg townships; Coplay, Alburtis, Coopersburg, Emmaus and Macungie boroughs; and Allentown and Bethlehem cities.
Northampton County: Bethlehem City and Bethlehem Township.
“Spotted Lanternfly has proven to be a tremendously destructive pest that spreads rapidly and can be devastating to our valuable grapes, hardwoods and hops,” Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said.
The Spotted Lanternfly is an inch-long black, red and white spotted insect native to Southeast Asia. It is an invasive species in Korea, where it has attacked 25 plant species that also grow in Pennsylvania. The pest had not been found in the United States prior to its initial detection in Berks County in the fall of 2014.
Crews from the department and its partner agencies are strategically working from the outside edge of the quarantined area inward to eliminate the Ailanthus, or Tree of Heaven, which is its preferred host for feeding and reproduction. Within the quarantined area, crews are working to eradicate the adult insects found during the summer months.
“We understand how alarming it is to property owners who see numbers increasing within quarantined counties,” Redding said. “Even with added resources, we are unable to visit all infested properties immediately. That is why the public’s cooperation in containing the spread of the insect is so vitally important. We need the public’s help.”
The department encourages anyone who finds the insects outside quarantined areas to report sightings to email@example.com. Please include photos, if possible, to help confirm your sighting. Suspect specimens can be submitted directly to the department’s headquarters in Harrisburg or to any of its six regional offices. Specimens also can be submitted to your county Penn State Extension office. Do not submit live specimens. You may also call the Invasive Species Report Line at 1-866-253-7189. Please provide details, including the location of the sighting and your contact information. You may not receive an immediate response, as call volume is high.
The quarantine is an important legal designation. Residents of municipalities under quarantine can follow simple directions to ensure that each citizen complies with the law. The quarantine order directs residents and municipal authorities to follow guidelines to prevent the movement of Spotted Lanternflies at any stage of development. This includes inspecting all wood and vegetation that might leave the quarantined municipality, in addition to inspecting vehicles, trailers and other mobile equipment prior to moving it out of the quarantined area.
Businesses in quarantined areas may need to obtain a Phytosanitary Certificate from the department to move articles out of the area. Local Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture inspectors can work with businesses to ensure they are complying with quarantine restrictions.