Allentown, Pa. (WTXF) - Officials say an isolated pocket of Spotted Lanternfly in Allentown has prompted state officials to expand a quarantine zone to include the city, as well as to seven other municipalities throughout Lehigh and Montgomery counties.
According to officials, the seven other municipalities include Whitehall, South Whitehall, Upper Saucon, and Lower Milford townships in Lehigh County, and Lower Pottsgrove, Upper Frederick, and Marlborough townships in Montgomery County.
"We haven't found evidence of a major infestation of Spotted Lanternfly in Allentown, but because we've found it there, we need citizens to help us identify pockets where it may exist. More importantly, we need everyone to ensure that they aren't accidentally transporting the insect," said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding, who also noted the other newly added municipalities are largely contiguous to previously quarantined townships.
The Spotted Lanternfly is an inch-long black, red and white spotted pest and is native to China, India, Japan and Vietnam. It is an invasive species in Korea, where it has attacked 25 plant species that also grow in Pennsylvania. The pest had not been found in the United States prior to its initial detection in Berks County in the fall of 2014.
In the fall, adults lay egg masses on nearly any flat surface, which can include outdoor furniture, equipment, stone and block, as well as the outsides and undersides of vehicles.
"Spotted Lanternflies are rather weak fliers, so the easiest way to spread them is by moving them ourselves," Redding added. "This means that whenever you drive somewhere or transport items, we're asking you to look before you leave. Comprehensively check your vehicle and cargo to make sure you aren't packing this pest."
Each egg mass contains 35-50 young Spotted Lanternflies. If you see eggs on trees or other smooth outdoor surfaces, scrape them off, double bag them and throw them in the garbage, or place the eggs in alcohol or hand sanitizer to kill them.
Redding stressed that residents inside the quarantine zone should simply destroy any specimens they find. There is no need to report the insect.
But if you live outside the quarantined zone and find a specimen, first, place the sample in alcohol or hand sanitizer in a leak proof container. Then, submit the specimen to your county Penn State Extension office or to the department's Entomology Lab for verification. Don't move live specimens. There are many places in the quarantine area that do not have active populations of Spotted Lanternfly, so don't help them to establish a new home base. Be sure to look before you leave.
The general quarantine of these infested areas restricts movement of any material or object that can spread the pest. This includes firewood or wood products, brush or yard waste, remodeling or construction materials and waste, packing material like boxes, grapevines for decorative purposes or as nursery stock, and any outdoor household articles like lawnmowers, grills, tarps and other equipment, as well as trucks and vehicles not typically stored indoors.
The quarantine now includes:
Residents can help with this eradication effort. Visit www.agriculture.pa.gov to access the "Spotted Lanternfly Quarantine Checklist" or contact a local municipality or extension office.
Photos of adults or egg masses can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org. To report a site, call the Invasive Species Report Line at 1-866-253-7189 and provide details of the sighting and your contact information.