In June, a Penn State Extension educator predicted the spotted lanternfly would run through the center of Lancaster County this year.

On a recent stroll along the Heritage Trail in Manheim Township, Jane Strassle noticed one of the insects hop in front of her. As she went to step on it, it hopped off the path.

That’s when she noticed a tree covered with dozens of the invasive bugs experts say are a threat to fruit orchards, plant nurseries and hardwood trees. The base of the tree was covered with a sap-like substance known as honeydew.

The spotted lanternfly, indigenous to China, India and Vietnam -- was first brought to the U.S. in 2014, in Berks County. The invasive planthopper was spotted on a tree along the Heritage trail on Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019.

According to the Penn State Extension, the honeydew is a medium for mold that can stunt plant growth. Plants with heavy infestation may not survive.

Lancaster County is one of 14 southeastern counties in a quarantine zone that affects how businesses can move equipment and products within and out of the zone. The other counties are Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lebanon, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia and Schuylkill.

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Businesses with commercial vehicles making deliveries within the quarantine areas have been required to have spotted lanternfly permits since last year. To date, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has issued more than 900,000 permits to more than 20,000 business nationwide that do business in the 14-county quarantine zone.

Lanternfly nymphs were spotted in York County in June, department of agriculture spokeswoman Shannon Powers said last month. At the time she said the fact the insect was seen there did not mean the quarantine zone would be expanded.

She said it may be a while before it could be determined if the number of lanternflies found in York County warrants a quarantine.

The spotted lanternfly is an invasive plant hopper native to China, India and Vietnam, and it was first discovered in Pennsylvania in Berks County.

The lanternfly can impact crops, such as grapes, hops and hardwoods, the state Department of Agriculture warns.

In the meantime, the agriculture department added the tree of heaven - an invasive tree that the insects feed on - to the state's noxious weed list. Starting in September, the sale or purchase of the tree, which is also known as ailanthus, will be banned in Pennsylvania.

Have you seen spotted lanternflies in your municipality? Let us know in the comments.

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