(USDA PEST ALERT) ― On September 25, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Services’ Systematic Entomology Laboratory confirmed the detection of spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) from Boyertown, Berks County, Pennsylvania, located in the eastern portion of the state. Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) employees hand collected the specimens from tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima ) bark. They also found the pest feeding on wild grapevine. This is the first detection of spotted lanternfly in the United States.
PDA found significant populations at multiple properties in Pennsylvania, including residential properties and a commercial property with a specialty stone business. The company imports over 150 shipments from China, India, and Brazil each year. Traceback investigations and DNA testing are currently underway to determine the country of origin for the insect. All townships with detections are located within Berks County.
Spotted lanternfly nymphs have a broad host range and will change hosts while going through developmental stages. They are trunk feeders like periodical cicadas. Adults also feed on a wide range of plants. The host list for spotted lanternfly includes, but is not limited to:
• Juglans (walnut)
• Malus (apples)
• Pinus (pine)
• Populus (poplar)
• Prunus (plums, cherries, peaches, apricots)
• Quercus (oak) and
• Vitus (grapes)
Damage to host plants occurs when it feeds, sucking phloem sap from stems and leaves (Lee et al., 2011). Phloem feeding results in low photosynthesis, sooty mold, and occasionally death of the host plant. In addition to causing economic damage on host plants, aggregations of L. delicatula are also considered a nuisance in urban settings.
Spotted lanternfly is known to occur in China, India, Japan, and Vietnam as well as South Korea, where it has become widespread during the last five to seven years (Park et al., 2013), including establishment in regions otherwise thought too cold for the pest. It is frequently described as an important pest in grape production in South Korea.
The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service continues to coordinate with the PDA to conduct further delimiting surveys to determine locations of any additional infestations. The Center for Plant Health Science and Technology formed a technical working group of subject matter experts to review PPQ and PDA’s questions regarding the biology of the pest and the current detections. APHIS is investigating control and eradication methods and is exploring biocontrol options.
Source: USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service