Invasive Insect Pest Reportedly 'Wreaking Havoc' on Eastern US, Prompts Quarantine in 47 Counties

CC BY-SA 4.0 / Rhododendrites / Spotted lanternfly in Brooklyn Botanic GardenSpotted lanternfly in Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Spotted lanternfly in Brooklyn Botanic Garden - Sputnik International, 1920, 13.09.2021
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First discovered in Pennsylvania less than a decade ago, the spotted lanternfly can now reportedly be encountered “throughout the northeast and mid-Atlantic, from the five boroughs in New York City to parts of Indiana”.
Some 47 counties in New Jersey and Pennsylvania were put under quarantine due to the spread of an invasive pest known as the spotted lanternfly, USA Today reports.
According to the media outlet, the number of New Jersey counties in quarantine has reached 13 while in Pennsylvania, that number has risen to 34, as the insect “continues to wreak havoc on the East Coast.”
“The spotted lanternfly’s excellent hitchhiking skills on all types of transportation have allowed it to spread, making it necessary to expand the quarantine zone,” Douglas Fisher, New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture, said in a news release.
Originating from China, the spotted lanternfly was apparently first found in Pennsylvania less than a decade ago. However, these insects can now be seen “throughout the northeast and mid-Atlantic, from the five boroughs in New York City to parts of Indiana,” the media outlet notes.
While the spotted lanternfly does not pose a threat to humans or pets, it is “known to feed on over 70 different types of trees and plants.”
Also, the insect secretes a sticky substance known as honeydew that serves as a substrate for mold that can harm plants as it prevents them from photosynthesizing if it gets on them.
The spotted lanternfly has reportedly managed to destroy vineyards in Pennsylvania, and a January 2020 study by the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences postulated that, if these insects are not contained, it may lead to “at least a $324 million hit to the state's economy and the loss of around 2,800 jobs,” as the media outlet put it.
The study also reportedly revealed that the “current spotted lanternfly-related damage is estimated to be $50.1 million per year with a loss of 484 jobs.”
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