Penn State asks visitors to help 'stop the spread' of spotted lanternfly

August 29, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The start of the academic year and football season brings thousands of students, families and fans to University Park, and Penn State wants to make sure those visitors are not chauffeuring a certain unwanted guest.

The gatecrasher in question is the spotted lanternfly, an invasive insect that first arrived on the scene in 2014 in Berks County, Pennsylvania. The planthopper, native to Asia, has the potential to take a big bite out of Pennsylvania's economy by damaging crops, landscapes and natural ecosystems, including the grape, tree-fruit, hardwood and nursery industries.

So far, the insect has been contained to a quarantine zone consisting of 13 counties — Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia and Schuylkill — and those on the front lines of combating the pest want to keep it that way.

"Working together, we can reduce the spread of this destructive species."

— Heather Leach, Penn State's spotted lanternfly extension associate

"Spotted lanternflies are crafty hitchhikers," said Heather Leach, Penn State's spotted lanternfly extension associate. "They also will lay their eggs pretty much anywhere, including on the undercarriages of vehicles, on luggage racks and on items that folks might bring to a game, such as tailgate chairs and tables.

"With the influx of visitors to campus this time of the year, we are concerned that they may unknowingly spread the insect during their travels," she said. "And keeping the spotted lanternfly from invading other parts of the state and beyond is imperative while we work toward developing long-term management and control solutions."

What you can do to help

To share that message, Penn State has launched a multimedia public awareness campaign asking visitors to the University Park campus, especially those coming from southeastern Pennsylvania, to take the following precautions before traveling:

  • Walk around your vehicle and check closely for any spotted lanternfly adults and/or nymphs; particularly check the windshield wiper area, bumpers and wheel wells. In fall and winter, also look for egg masses, which have the appearance of mud splatters. On RVs, check the roofs as well.
  • Check any piece of equipment or item that you will be transporting that has been outdoors in the quarantine area — such as grills, tents, tables or yard games.
  • Do not park your RV or other vehicles under trees. Keep your windows up at all times.
  • Check yourself before getting into any vehicle to make sure there are no spotted lanternfly nymphs or adults on you.

"Citizens can make a big difference by taking these small actions," said Leach. "Working together, we can reduce the spread of this destructive species."

A team effort

Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences and Penn State Extension are part of a multistate, interdisciplinary task force consisting of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and industry and agriculture representatives who are working together to identify specific strategies to combat the spotted lanternfly.

For more information about how to identify and control spotted lanternfly, how to report an infestation and how to comply with quarantine regulations, visit the Penn State Extension website at https://extension.psu.edu/spotted-lanternfly.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated September 04, 2018