Everyone’s help is needed in controlling the latest threat to agriculture, not only in Pennsylvania but everywhere this pest is detected. The spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) is a destructive invasive species that is having a significant impact on Pennsylvania vineyards. Native to Southeast Asia, the lanternfly was first detected in Pennsylvania in 2014, and since then, it has rapidly spread to 51 counties throughout the state. The insect is known to feed on the sap of a wide variety of plants, including grapevines, and is considered a major threat to the agriculture industry. In this article, I will focus on the spotted lanternfly’s impact on Pennsylvania vineyards.
One of the most significant ways that spotted lanternfly affects Pennsylvania vineyards is by feeding on grapevines. The insect has piercing-sucking mouthparts that it uses to extract sap from the vines, which can weaken them and cause stunted growth, reduced yield, and even death. The sap that the insects feed on also attracts other pests and fungi, which can further damage the vines. The damage caused by spotted lanternflies can result in significant economic losses for vineyard owners, as well as reduced wine production.
In addition to the direct damage caused by the insect, spotted lanternfly also poses a threat to the indirect damage due to vineyard management practices. Vineyard owners and managers must take measures to control the spread of the insect, which can be costly and time-consuming. Some management strategies include removing host trees and plants, trapping and killing the insect, and using insecticides. However, many of these measures require specialized equipment and expertise and can have negative environmental impacts, not to mention the additional expense of labor and material to the grower.
The impact of spotted lanternflies on Pennsylvania vineyards also has broader implications for the state’s agriculture industry. The insect threatens other crops besides grapevines, including hops, apples, and hardwood trees. The cost of managing the insect and the economic losses associated with crop damage can have a significant impact on the state’s economy with an estimated loss of production well over 300 million dollars a year.
To mitigate the impact of spotted lanternflies on Pennsylvania vineyards, it is essential to develop effective management strategies. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has provided broad recommendations for vineyard owners and managers, including monitoring for the presence of the insect, removing the tree of heaven (a common host plant for the spotted lanternfly), and using insecticides targeted at the insect’s life cycle. Other research initiatives aim to develop biological control methods, such as the use of natural predators to keep the insect population in check. Pennsylvania’s U.S Senators John Fetterman and Bob Casey have co-introduced bipartisan legislation they say would stop the spread of the spotted lanternfly. The Spotted Lanternfly Research and Development Act would designate the spotted lanternfly as an invasive species and high-priority research target for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
Until we get any help from the government with this problem it will be up to all of us to slow the spread of the spotted lanternfly. The best and most ecologically friendly way to destroy this insect is to smash, stomp, squish, swat, crush, and spray them with vinegar, or neem oil to name a few methods to kill this pest. If you find a spotted lanternfly please report it to the Pennsylvania Dept. of Agriculture by calling 888-4BADFLY Thank You!
Photo Credit: Pennsylvania Dept of Agriculture