Sight­ing of spot­ted lantern­fly caus­ing worry for some Ce­cil farm­ers

Kent County News - - NEWS - By JANE BELLMYER jbellmyer@ce­cil­whig.com

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.

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