In the midst of a global pandemic and ongoing social unrest, Huntingdon County residents may have forgotten the county is one of 12 added to the quarantine area for the Spotted Lanternfly in March.
Those eggs are now hatched and, if they are around, they’re much easier to spot.
“They’re now up to about a quarter of an inch long,” said Shannon Powers, “They’re in the second phase of being a nymph, which means they’re black with white spots. Some of them may have already matured to the red and black phase, and we’ll likely start to see adults next month.”
When Huntingdon County was added to the list of quarantined counties for the Spotted Lanternfly in March, Powers explained the reasoning for it.
“The previous 14 counties (already in a quarantine area) had widespread insect populations,” she said. “But, you’ll see clearly how the insect travels. It travels by hitchhiking with people. It doesn’t fly. It didn’t fly across several counties to get to Allegheny and Beaver counties. It got there by traveling people.
“The 12 added counties had very isolated infestations,” added Powers. “That’s part of the reason we expanded the quarantine area. We wanted to tamp down isolated areas where it traveled along transportation corridors.”
Thanks to the efforts from the state Department of Agriculture and the Penn State Cooperative Extension, people are more aware of the Spotted Lanternfly.
“There’s been a huge effort,” said Powers. “It’s personal when it’s affecting them in their home.”
Powers estimated that 10,193 reports have been made between Jan. 1 and June 18, whereas there were only 1,607 reports between Jan. 1, 2019, and June 18, 2019.
“That’s not a reflection of how much more widespread it is, but how much more aware people are of its presence,” said Powers. “It’s really hard to truly gauge how widespread it really is.”
This is why Powers recommends people go online and familiarize themselves with the different stages of the Spotted Lanternfly and learn more of what to expect when they look for it.
“This is especially if you’re traveling in and out of the quarantine area,” she said.
This is also why people who are traveling in and out of the county specifically for business reasons are required to have a permit if they are in a quarantine area for the Spotted Lanternfly.
“A company is required to identify those who have a permit and those traveling for business,” said Powers. “If someone takes the training online, they can, in turn, train other people.”
The training to have a permit to travel for a Spotted Lanternfly is not an extensive process, but merely identifying what the insect looks like, where to look for it and how to destroy and not take it when leaving a quarantine area.
“If you work in the transport industry, that would be a part of a regular stop at a weigh station,” said Powers. “That’s one of the inspections that are completed at a weigh station. If you work in an industry that transports agriculture goods like nursery plants or trees, they’re used to those kinds of inspections. This is just one more aspect of it. They can keep their documents and permit in their vehicle.”
There are also checklists available for homeowners at agriculture.pa.gov/spottedlanternfly on where to look for, destroy and report potential infestations.
With less people traveling due to previous stay-at-home orders may have prevented some spread of the Spotted Lanternfly, but right now, it’s still too early to tell, said Powers.
“It’s important for people, especially if they’re camping, which is something you can do safely right now,” said Powers. “It’s very important to check your vehicle, so not to take the fly in and out of a camping area and not take it home with you.”
If anyone finds a potential infestation, Powers encourages people to call 1-888-422-3359, and she said strike teams from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the PDA will come to the site for further inspection.
“They follow up on every report and treat the area appropriately, depending on the stage its in,” said Powers. “If you report and can verify, please be sure to take a photo as well. Those help.”