Lower Nazareth Township joins fight against spotted lanternfly
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.
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.