Sighting of spotted lanternfly causing worry for some Cecil farmers
ELKTON — The insect that the Maryland Department of Agriculture warned the Eastern Shore about in March — the spotted lanternfly — has been found in Cecil County recently near the DelawarePennsylvania borders.
The spotted lanternfly poses a major threat to the region’s agricultural industries as they feed on over 70 different types of plants and crops — including grapes, hops, apples, peaches, oak, pine and many others. Originally from Asia, the spotted lanternfly is non-native to the U.S. and was first detected in Berks County, Pa. in the fall of 2014. As a known planthopper and hitchhiker, the spotted lanternfly has spread to 13 counties within Pennsylvania and has confirmed populations in Delaware, Virginia and New Jersey.
“The spotted lanternfly has been on our radar since Pennsylvania’s first sighting in 2014,” Maryland Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder said in a statement Oct. 25. “The Maryland Department of Agriculture’s Plant Protection and Weed Management Program and our partners have been proactively monitoring for spotted lanternfly across the state in an effort to keep the destructive pest from establishing a population in Maryland. By staying ahead of the spotted lanternfly we can keep our farmers’ crops and the state’s agricultural industries safe.”
The department’s Plant Protection and Weed Management Program continues to work with the University of Maryland Extension, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and others to monitor the insect in Maryland via trap surveys. The department has launched outreach and education campaigns aimed at agricultural operations and the general public. There is no spotted lanternfly quarantine for businesses or homeowners in Maryland at this time.
“Luckily, we found the first spotted lanternfly toward the end of the season and the confirmed spotted lanternfly is a male, which means it did not produce any egg masses in the state,” said Kim Rice, state Plant Protection and Weed Management Program manager, in a statement.
Egg masses can be seen from now until late spring. Come spring time, egg masses will hatch producing 30 to 50 black-and-whitespeckled nymphs.
Doris Behnke, senior agent associate with the University of Maryland Extension Service in Elkton and owner of Turkey Point Vineyard near North East, is nervous.
“It’s inevitable they were going to end up here with all the counties in southeastern Pennsylvania where they already are,” Behnke said.
Behnke is researching what can be done to stop the pest from attacking the vineyard.
Anyone who does find evidence of the spotted lanternfly is being urged to kill it, bag it and freeze it, then call the Maryland Department of Agriculture, which will want the specimen for research.
Call 410-841-5920 or send an email with photos to DontBug. MD@ maryland. gov.