Delaware County Properties to be Assessed for Spotted Lanternfly

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The Delaware County Conservation District is working with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to assess properties for the existence of Spotted Lanternfly in Delaware County.

Delaware County Council authorized the USDA to conduct assessments for Spotted Lanternfly on County-owned properties.

Lycorma delicatula, commonly known as the Spotted Lanternfly, is a new invasive insect that has spread throughout southeastern Pennsylvania since its discovery in Berks County in 2014. In 2018, the species was discovered in Delaware County. The Spotted Lanternfly presents a significant threat to Pennsylvania agriculture, including the grape, tree-fruit, hardwood and nursery industries, which collectively are worth nearly $18 billion to the state's economy.

The assessment, which began on May 29 will include the inspection of properties for Spotted Lanternfly and for Tree-of-Heaven (Ailanthus altissima.) Tree-of-Heaven is an invasive tree from China and harbors invasive insect species, including the Spotted Lanternfly.

Staff conducting the assessments will mark Tree-of- Heaven with red or blue paint. The trees which are six inches in diameter or less will be treated with herbicide, and the larger ones will be treated with pesticide. Staff will also collect tree data which will be submitted to determine a plan for treatment.

An assessment has been completed at Upland Park. Assessments at Catania Park, Willow Park, Clayton Park, Shrigley Park and property outside of the County’s Emergency Services Training Center will begin next week.

The spotted lanternfly attacks fruit trees. It feeds on the sap in trunks, branches, twigs and leaves. As it digests the sap, the insect excretes a substance. There may be a buildup of the sticky fluid on infested plants and on the ground below. The sap also provides a medium for growth of fungi, such as sooty mold, which can cover leaf surfaces and stunt growth. Plants with heavy infestations may not survive.

Potentially at stake are Pennsylvania's grape, tree-fruit, hardwood, nursery and landscape industries, which generate agricultural crops and forest products worth nearly $18 billion annually. The insect also can cause damage to high-value ornamentals in home landscapes and can affect the quality of life for residents.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture advises that the Adult Spotted Lanternfly and nymphs can be mechanically destroyed, such as being swatted with a shoe. If you encounter an egg mass, they suggest to scrape the mass into a bottle that can be sealed. If you cannot scrape the egg mass into a container, mechanically destroy it as best as possible.

More information on the Spotted Lanternfly can be found here:

The Penn State Extension Hotline: 1-888-422-3359

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Delaware County, presently consisting of over 184 square miles divided into forty-nine municipalities is the oldest settled section of Pennsylvania.

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