Lower Nazareth Town­ship joins fight against spot­ted lantern­fly

The Morning Call - - LOCAL NEWS - By Kevin Duffy Kevin Duffy is a free­lance writer for The Morn­ing Call.

Steps to com­bat the spread of the spot­ted lantern­fly in Lower Nazareth Town­ship have been ap­proved by lo­cal of­fi­cials.

The Board of Su­per­vi­sors on Wed­nes­day agreed to a U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture plan to treat or re­move plants the in­va­sive in­sects like from mu­nic­i­pal grounds.

The plan is part of a far-reach­ing ef­fort by the depart­ment to hit as many mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties as pos­si­ble within the quar­an­tine area, which ex­tends through­out the Le­high Val­ley.

Louise Bug­bee, an out­reach tech­ni­cian with the USDA, told the board that crews will ei­ther treat trees of heaven with her­bi­cides or pes­ti­cides, de­pend­ing on the tree’s size.

Trees that are less than 6 inches in di­am­e­ter will be treated with her­bi­cides to kill them, and others will be hit with pes­ti­cides in­tended to kill the spot­ted lantern­flies when they lay their eggs.

Su­per­vi­sors granted per­mis­sion to be­gin work in the town­ship next year, as treat­ments take place be­tween spring and fall and are now fin­ished for 2019.

“This would only be on your mu­nic­i­pal prop­erty,” said Bug­bee, who works from the depart­ment’s Easton of­fice.

The depart­ment will also ap­proach pri­vate landown­ers, but work crews will not treat Tree-of-heaven with­out the prop­erty owner’s per­mis­sion.

Work crews have been us­ing tri­clopyr her­bi­cide on the smaller plants and dinote­fu­ran in­sec­ti­cide on the larger ones. “As the data comes in, maybe we’ll change our meth­ods, but for now this is what we’re go­ing with,” Bug­bee said.

Spot­ted lantern­flies have dec­i­mated the grape in­dus­try — “some vine­yards have lost 80% of their vines,” she said — and have af­fected birch and maple trees.

Bug­bee said spot­ted lantern­flies won’t pose a threat to any­one buy­ing Christ­mas trees. “If those eggs hatch, the nymphs will die be­cause they’re in a hot­house on a dead tree,” she said.

Board mem­ber Bob Hoyer, owner of Buzas Nurs­ery, said he was con­cerned over the chem­i­cals be­ing used, the length of time that would be nec­es­sary to keep res­i­dents away from treated plants, and the un­wanted at­ten­tion that work crews would gen­er­ate.

“Res­i­dents are go­ing to see you spray­ing trees and we’re go­ing to get the phone calls,” he said.

He also voiced con­cern about the ef­fect of the chem­i­cals on wildlife and the bee pop­u­la­tion, which is al­ready in de­cline, but said the ef­fort to erad­i­cate the pests should be made.

“They’re putting a Band-Aid on a hem­or­rhage, but it’s a start,” he said.

MATT ROURKE/AP

The Lower Nazareth Board of Su­per­vi­sors on Wed­nes­day agreed to a plan pro­posed by the U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture to treat or re­move plants from mu­nic­i­pal grounds that the in­va­sive in­sects are at­tracted to for breed­ing.

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