Spotted lanternfly quarantine: egg-laying season begins in September

August 30, 2019

Greg Grisolano

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September is the start of egg-laying season for the spotted lanternfly, and authorities in Pennsylvania want to remind truckers operating in and through the quarantine zone that they need their help in controlling the spread of this invasive species.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, as well as surrounding states, have issued a quarantine for counties where the presence of spotted lanternfly has been confirmed. Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey, require permits for motor carriers that pick up or deliver a load in the quarantine zone.

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

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.

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. The Extension office recommends scraping the mass off of whatever surface it’s located on, into a container that has rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer. Then double-bag the container before disposing of it. Nymphs or adult lanternflies can be killed simply by being smashed or squished.

Loads that originate outside the quarantine zone and are not being delivered within it do not require a permit to travel through the zone, per the Pennsylvania State University Extension office, though the office suggests that such businesses “consider securing the truck and load from hitchhiking spotted lanternfly. Trucks that stop in the zone and unload product are required to obtain permits.

The permit program is free, but failure to comply could cost an offender.

Truck drivers should be aware, because states can levy fines and civil penalties for transporting – knowingly or unknowingly – spotted lanternfly and/or their eggs. Satellite populations have appeared in Delaware, Maryland, New York and Virginia.

Truckers who don’t comply with a quarantine effort to restrict the spread of an invasive insect in Pennsylvania and nearby states can face fines of up to $20,000.

Penn State Extension and state Department of Agriculture have developed a free, self-paced, “train the trainer” online course to train a designated employee – usually the owner, manager, or supervisor – on how to comply with the quarantine regulations. A link to the course is available via the OOIDA Foundation website.

If you are outside of the quarantine area, report any sightings to the Pennsylvania State University Extension at Extension.PSU.edu/spotted-lanternfly or call 888-4-BADFLY (888-422-3359).

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.