Michigan urges ‘vigilance’ after dead spotted lanternfly cases identified

November 17, 2020

Greg Grisolano

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Truck drivers and other freight workers are being asked to look out for the spotted lanternfly, after several dead specimens of the pest were recently found in Michigan.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development says the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed dead spotted lanternfly insects were found in Michigan in recent weeks. There is no evidence of established populations of spotted lanternfly in Michigan.

“These detections showcase the importance of being on the continual lookout for invasive species,” said Robert Miller, MDARD’s invasive species prevention and response specialist. “This a great example of the public and government agencies working together to keep out unwanted pests and protecting our prized natural resources.”

The spotted lanternfly is a planthopper native to China, India and Vietnam. It has the potential to greatly affect agricultural crops, including grapes, hops and hardwoods.

First found in the United States in 2014 in southeastern Pennsylvania, spotted lanternfly has been spreading rapidly across the nation. Infestations have been confirmed in Delaware, Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, West Virginia, Connecticut, and Ohio.

Spotted lanternfly causes direct damage by sucking sap from host plants and secreting large amounts of a sugar-rich, sticky liquid called honeydew.

This honeydew and the resulting black, sooty mold can kill plants and foul surfaces. The honeydew often attracts other pests, particularly hornets, wasps and ants, affecting outdoor recreation and complicating crop harvests.

Adults are approximately 1 inch long by a half inch wide, with distinctive gray, black and red wings and a yellow abdomen. Immature stages are black with white spots and develop red patches as they grow.

This spring, Pennsylvania added an additional 12 counties to its quarantine zone. That brought the total number of counties in the zone to 26.

Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey require permits for motor carriers that pick up or deliver a load in the quarantine zone.

Truck drivers should be aware, because states can levy fines and civil penalties for transporting – knowingly or unknowingly – spotted lanternfly and/or their eggs. Fines associated with noncompliance can be up to $300 for a criminal citation or up to $20,000 for a civil penalty.

The egg mass stage looks “like a smear of mud” and can be found on any smooth, hard surface. Egg masses can be found on trees and plants, pallets, bricks, stone and metal. The egg mass stage is more difficult to destroy.

If you find a spotted lanternfly egg mass, nymph or adult, take one or more photos, make note of the date, time and location of the sighting, and report to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, MDA-Info@Michigan.gov or call MDARD’s Customer Service Center, 800-292-3939. If possible, collect a specimen in a container for verification. LL

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Greg Grisolano

Greg Grisolano joined Land Line in 2013. He was formerly a reporter for the Joplin Globe. He brings business writing and photography skills to Land Line, and has a passion for finding and telling stories about the people who make up the trucking industry.