Allegheny County residents should be on the lookout for spotted lanternflies and/or masses of their eggs inside of and on their vehicles to avoid unintentionally transporting the invasive bug to new locations, say experts at Penn State University.
“Experts in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Penn State Extension, as well as the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, have concerns about spotted lanternflies hitching rides on vehicles and on items being transported, whether they are egg masses or in the nymph or adult stages of their life cycle,” a Penn State spokesperson tells Pittsburgh City Paper.
Penn State Extension and the Department of Agriculture recommend that travelers monitor their vehicles for spotted lanternflies before beginning a trip. This time of year, residents are most likely to see late-stage nymphs or adult flies, according to this Penn State guide.
Since its 2014 discovery in Berks County, the spotted lanternfly has spread throughout the state of Pennsylvania, according to Penn State Extension. It feeds on the plant sap of various plants including grapevines, maples, and black walnut trees, potentially hurting the state’s economy and ecosystem, they warn.
In March 2020, the state Department of Agriculture added Allegheny County to the list of Pa. counties in the state’s extensive quarantine zone. SLF quarantine means that moving a spotted lanternfly at any stage of its lifecycle is not allowed.
"The Spotted Lanternfly is more than a pest in the literal sense," said Pa. Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding in a 2020 release. "It's wreaking havoc for home and business owners; kids who just want to play outside; Pennsylvania agriculture and the economy of the state we all call home. Whether you think it's your job or not, we need every Pennsylvanian to keep their eyes peeled for signs of this bad bug – to scrape every egg mass, squash every bug, and report every sighting. We need to unite over our hatred for this pest for our common love: Pennsylvania."
Penn State Extension also recommends destroying spotted lanternflies in any stage of life.
"If you find a spotted lanternfly or a suspicious-looking egg mass in a location where it is not known to exist, you should try to collect it and put it into a container filled with alcohol (rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer, etc.) to kill and preserve it, or at least take a good picture of it," they write. "Report your sighting online to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture or call Penn State Extension at 1-888-4BADFLY (1-888-422-3359). Your discovery could add additional municipalities to the quarantined area."