While “spotted lanternfly” may have a harmless sounding name like firefly or lady bug, don’t be fooled. The spotted lanternfly is invasive and a destructive little bug that specializes in terrorizing crops and trees.
Originally from southwest Asia, the spotted lanternfly found its way to the state of Pennsylvania in 2014 and has since imposed a serious threat to the agricultural community along the eastern seaboard. The spotted lanternfly is known for killing crops and damaging trees, so efforts to stop the spread of these bugs is no joke. Seriously, just in Pennsylvania alone, $18 billion worth of goods could be affected if the spread of these bugs got out-of-hand, according to Penn State University.
But not only do they cause crop loses, they leave behind a mess when they feed. When a spotted lanternfly feeds on plants and bark from trees, it excretes honeydew, in other words, sugary water around the area its feeding. This creates a black sooty mold. It’s pretty nasty stuff. It’s not harmful, but these bugs have been known to damage decks and other structures.
So far, 14 counties in Pennsylvania are under quarantine, and sightings of these bugs have been found in New Jersey, New York, and Delaware. To crack down on the spread of these bugs, drivers passing through these states must pass a lanternfly training course and hold a permit declaring they’ve completed the training. State and agricultural inspectors are issuing tickets to drivers that pass through these states without a permit. It’s serious business to stop the spread of this bug in its tracks. The good news is, the online training is available for free.
While most of the sightings of spotted lanternflies are in Pennsylvania, it’s pretty easy for these bugs to travel. Just like wildfires, all it takes is one spark, or in this case, one bug to end up on a truck or trailer and another area could be affected. Through the lanternfly training, drivers will learn how to thoroughly inspect their tractor-trailer, how to lower their chances of lanternflies attaching onto their truck, how to identify the bugs, among other useful information. And, trust us, you don’t want to be the one responsible for sending this bug to another county or state to wreak havoc.
To further assist drivers with the latest news on spotted lanternflies, Transflo, a provider of ELD’s and Drivewyze partner, recently announced they’re offering free access to their Transflo Mobile+ app to help drivers stay compliant with the spotted lanternfly quarantine. In the app, a “Spotted Lanternfly” button provides access to current regulations, access to alerting the agricultural authorities about sightings, among other useful information regarding spotted lanternflies.
So, what should you do if you’re in an infested area and happen to see a spotted lanternfly? Kill it, if you can. It might go against the grain to kill an insect, but this is an invasive species with the only option being extermination.
For more information regarding spotted lanternflies and how to identify these bugs, visit https://extension.psu.edu/spotted-lanternfly.