The insect feeds on more than 70 plants and crops
By Diego Flammini
An invasive pest that can cause significant harm to several crops has arrived in Maryland.
The spotted lanternfly, which is native to Asia, was found in a trap in Cecil County. State officials have monitored for the insect since it arrived in the U.S. four years ago in Pennsylvania and Delaware.
The insect in the trap was a male, which is good news.
“Luckily, we found the first spotted lanternfly toward the end of the season and confirmed the spotted lanternfly is a male – which means it did not produce any egg masses in the state,” Kim Rice, manager of the Department of Agriculture’s plant protection and weed management program, told The Baltimore Sun yesterday.
Since the insect is relatively new to the U.S., controlling it remains a bit of a puzzle.
Penn State University researchers are trying to develop and register pesticides to control the spotted lanternfly, said Kelly Hamby, an assistant professor in the University of Maryland’s entomology department.
Since the bug’s arrival, scientists have also learned how the spotted lanternfly attacks crops.
“This insect seems to cluster in big groups,” Hamby told Farms.com. “They pierce the plant tissue and sucks out the juices of the plant and filters the good stuff for themselves. While that’s going on, the insects also getting rid of the juices they don’t want.
“The excreted substance is called honeydew, and that can cause a lot of secondary problems because it can promote mold growth.”
The spotted lanternfly is so new to the area that farmers did not know of it.
“I’ve never heard of that bug before,” said Mike Harrison, a grain producer from Carroll County, Md. “Hopefully it doesn’t spread.”