Spotted lanternfly egg mass

The spotted lanternfly egg mass, left, is muddy in appearance. The gypsy moth eggs, right, are covered in brown hairs and appear fuzzy. Destroy both, when possible, as both species are invasive in Pennsylvania.

The spotted lanternfly has made its way to West Virginia, according to a professor at West Virginia University.

Yong-Lak Park, professor of entomology at the university, said the invasive insect was found on Sept. 30, 2019, in the Bunker Hill area of Berkeley County.

Crescent Gallagher, West Virginia Department of Agriculture’s communications director, said they are not sure where the insects came from.

Berkeley County borders Frederick County, Virginia, which is in a quarantine zone there established to prevent the spread of the inch-long black, red and white spotted insect.

“I would imagine that the spotted lanternfly made its way into West Virginia either through goods or vehicles transporting it,” Gallagher said.

Lancaster is one of 14 counties in Pennsylvania under a quarantine zone. The other counties are Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Delaware, Dauphin, Lebanon, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia and Schuylkill.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture requires businesses with commercial vehicles making deliveries within the quarantine areas to have spotted lanternfly permits.

Following is a look at the 2019 spotted lanternfly season.

By the numbers

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture received more than 90,000 reports of spotted lanternfly sightings in 2019, said Shannon Powers, department press secretary.

Every report is investigated by the department and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If the insects are confirmed, the area is treated and the departments follow up to make sure the insects are eliminated, Powers said.

The state agriculture department has issued 1,026,52 spotted lanternfly permits to employees of 22,332 companies who travel within the quarantine zone. That number is up from 370,000 in May.

A recent Penn State University study estimated that the economic impact of the insects could be $50 million in Pennsylvania’s quarantine zone. According to the study, if the infestation is not contained to the quarantine zone, it could cost the greenhouse, nursery and floriculture production industry an estimated 361 jobs and $27 million.

What can you do in the winter?

The most effective thing to do right now is scrape the egg masses and squish them, said Timothy Elkner, a PennState Extension educator.

Adult lanternflies die off by December — only their egg masses survive through winter until they hatch around May. Each egg mass contains 30 to 50 eggs and can appear on almost any flat surface.

By the end of last year’s season, the insects were widely dispersed throughout the county, said Elkner. They are no longer concentrated in specific areas.

“The population is just growing and dispersing,” he said.

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