The spotted lanternfly, an invasive species from Asia, has wasted no time in spreading east into our section of Pennsylvania.
Just one month after extending a quarantine meant to halt the pest’s advance into the western Montgomery townships of Lower Pottsgrove, Marlborough and Upper Frederick, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has extended the quarantine into almost the entire greater Pottstown region.
According to an email from state Rep. Tom Quigley, R-146th Dist., the quarantine has been expanded.
In Berks County, the quarantine is now effective in Birdsboro and Union and Robeson townships.
Already part of the quarantine in Berks County are: Amity, Colebrookdale, District, Douglass, Earl, Exeter, Hereford, Oley, Pike, and Washington townships, and the boroughs of Bally, Bechtelsville, Boyertown and St. Lawrence.
In Chester County, it has been expanded into Spring City and the townships of North Coventry, East Coventry and East Vincent.
South Coventry Township is already part of the quarantine.
And in Montgomery County, the quarantine now also includes the boroughs of Pottstown and Royersford and the townships of Limerick, Upper Providence, Upper Pottsgrove, Upper Salford and Lower Frederick.
In Montgomery County, the municipalities already under quarantine are: Douglass, New Hanover, Upper Hanover and West Pottsgrove townships, and the boroughs of East Greenville, Pennsburg and Red Hill.
The spotted lanternfly was first detected in the United States in Berks County in the fall of 2014 and it has yet to spread to other states.
An inch-long black, red and white spotted insect, the spotted lanternfly is native to China, India, Japan and Vietnam and is an invasive species in Korea, where it has attacked 25 plant species that also grow in Pennsylvania.
The insect attacks grapes, apples, pines and stone fruits, according to the Department of Agriculture web site.
It often attaches to the bark of Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima), an invasive species similar to Sumac that can be found around parking lots or along tree lines. Adults often cluster in groups and lay egg masses containing 30-50 eggs that adhere to flat surfaces including tree bark.
Freshly laid egg masses have a grey waxy mud-like coating, while hatched eggs appear as brownish seed-like deposits in four to seven columns about an inch long. Trees attacked by the spotted lanternfly will show a grey or black trail of sap down the trunk.
If you find specimens in the quarantine area, there is no need to report the discovery, simply destroy any specimens found by scraping them off the surface, double bagging them and throwing them away, or by placing them in alcohol or hand sanitizer to kill them, according to the agriculture department.
However, if you find specimens outside the quarantine area, “place the specimen in alcohol or hand sanitizer in a leak-proof container. Then submit the specimen to your county Penn State Extension office or to the agriculture department’s entomology lab for verification,” according to the Agriculture Department.
If you take a photo, submit photo of adults or egg masses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or to report a site, call the invasive species report line at 1-866-253-7189.