lanternfly

A spotted lanternfly nymph.

Can swarms of little bugs, like the Asia-native spotted lanternfly, have the potential to impact hundreds of acres of forests, grapes and fruit trees?

Absolutely.

Right now, the spotted lanternfly has been cause for concern among Pennsylvanians, as the invasive species can carve a destructive path through wildlife flora. 

The insects are not yet fully grown; they are in the nymph stage, and they will likely stay there until late June, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

Here's what to do if you spot a spotted lanternfly.

The spotted lanternfly directly threatens $18 billion of agricultural products, according to state Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Shannon Powers.

They are destructive to fruit orchards, plant nurseries and valuable hardwood trees, but the scale of their destruction is not fully known, said Emelie Swackhamer, a Penn State Extension educator in Montgomery County.

“The effect is not immediate, the effect is cumulative,” said Darin Levengood, part owner of Manatawny Creek Winery in Berks County.

The insects feed on plants and excrete honeydew — which contrary to its name, is not a welcome substance. Honeydew attracts sooty mold, a dark fungus that can coat any surface where the honeydew lands.

Currently, Lancaster County is one of the counties quarantined by the Department of Agriculture for the infestation of lanternflies. Other counties involved are Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lebanon, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia and Schuylkill.

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