In a continuing effort to make a difference in the community the Frystown Lions Club recently sponsored an information night on the Spotted Lanternfly.
The Bethel-Tulpehocken Public Library, under the supervision of Leigh Beamesderfer, hosted the event.
After Lions club president Dennis Zerbe welcomed those who came to hear about the Spotted Lanternfly, he introduced Master Gardener Karen George of Berks Cooperative Extension who presented the program.
She shared that while the Spotted Lanternfly does not harm humans or animals directly, it does so indirectly by killing trees and other plants that provide nourishment for the insect.
While the insect has not been seen in this particular part of Berks County, George explained that because it is in other parts of the county the entire area is in the quarantine zone.
The Spotted Lanternfly is a relatively recent addition to the menaces that the area has seen over the years.
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is working diligently to keep the insect from spreading as the PDA feverishly works to find ways to remove it from the environment. It is extremely invasive and is a great hazard to fruit trees some of which are key crops to this state’s economy.
The insect has its origin in South Korea and probably used materials we get from that nation, possibly landscaping stone, as its transportation mode.
In the first stage of the insect -the nymph stage- it is hardly larger than a tick and would probably be identified as one.
In this stage they are black with white spots. They are hoppers, not flyers, and the area is just now entering the season when they begin to hatch. As they grow their color becomes more vibrant with red being added.
George explained that in the adult stage they begin to lay their eggs and when they appear over their egg mass -up to 100 eggs each- one sees only the grayish wings with black dots.
At this stage they are able to fly. When they spread their wings one is able to see the red with black dots.
When they are in abundance, and they usually are, they can cover a large portion of their food source and as Master Gardener George says, “They are disgusting.”
The Spotted Lanternfly has a piercing sucking mouth and uses this to pierce the food source and then sucks the juices from the source. This will eventually kill the tree or plant, she explained.
George shared that the insect’s favorite food source is a tree called Ailanthus altissima or “tree of heaven,” a tree that resembles sumac.
That fruit trees and other plants are only second or third choices as its source of nourishment is of little consolation to those who see their vegetation or crops devastated.
Once the insect sucks the sugary substance from its host, the insect excretes a sugary residue that can easily be seen running down the host.
Using what has become a favorite phrase, George, showing pictures of it, said, “It’s disgusting.”
Residents who spot them would do well to contact Berks Cooperative Extension. If egg masses are spotted, they should be scraped into a plastic bag (double bagged) and disposed of in the garbage or scraped into a container and burned or soaked in alcohol. The insect itself can be stomped on or collected and burned. Certain insecticides have been proven to be successful–Dinotefurar in particular.
The Frystown Lions Club sponsored program was well received by those community members who attended. In appreciation to the library and the speaker, the Frystown Lions Club presented each entity with a small donation.
For a program in your area contact Berks County Cooperative Extension at 610-378-1327.