Sunday, June 16, 2019


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Lanternfly Infestation Continues
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            One Marlborough Township resident says he is making strides in his effort to stop the spread of the spotted lanternfly. Bert Shive has utilized fly paper and systemic pesticides on several of the trees to kill the invasive insect.

            "Believe it or not, the situation is better this year," Shive said. "Last year was horrible. But it's a constant battle."

            According to Shive, the number of lanternflies on his 11-acre, East Campbell Road property has been reduced from tens of thousands to thousands. He said he finds dead insects all over his property.

            Researchers from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have developed targeted methods to eradicate the lanternfly, according to Emelie Swackhamer, a horticulture educator for Penn State's Montgomery County Extension near Skippack.

            "They are an important piece of the puzzle," said Swackhamer, a 1982 graduate of Upper Perkiomen High School.

            She said the federal agency is researching the possibility of implementing certain predators or parasites to eradicate the bugs that live off tree sap and fruit, but added that nothing has been identified or released.

            Researchers initially identified the lanternfly – an invasive planthopper that can damage trees and the fruit they produce – along the border of Pike and District townships in Berks County four years ago, according to Swackhamer.

            She said the USDA is currently monitoring an 18-mile ban around the local infestation area, concentrated in northeastern Berks and western Montgomery counties, by cutting down numerous Trees of Heaven – which appear to be vital to the lanternfly's life cycle – and setting up trap trees that serve as monitoring stations.

            Shive has removed 30 trees from around his garage, including three with a 20-inch diameter, to eliminate a hot spot. Last summer, he said he watched them descend on his property from the neighbors by the hundreds. In March, he had systemic pesticides injected into three large remaining tree stumps.

            "I was hoping to be the magnet in my neighborhood," said Shive, a member of the township's Park and Recreation committee.

            Swackhamer did not reinforce Shive's assertion that the overall population of lanternflies has been reduced. However, she said the species remains in the same approximate location, which she attributed to the public's awareness of the issue.

            "I'm not saying it's getting better," Swackhamer said. But it has not spread across the country."

            The quarantine restricts the movement of certain articles. Industries and regulated articles under the quarantine that are not to be removed/moved to a new area are any living stage of the Spotted Lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula.  This includes egg masses, nymphs, and adults; brush, debris, bark, or yard waste; landscaping, remodeling or construction waste; logs, stumps, or any tree parts; firewood of any species; grapevines for decorative purposes or as nursery stock; nursery stock; crated materials; outdoor household articles including recreational vehicles, lawn tractors and mowers, mower decks, grills, grill and furniture covers, tarps, mobile homes, tile, stone, deck boards, mobile fire pits, any associated equipment and trucks or vehicles not stored indoors.

            The adult flies will die with the first killing frost, according to the educator. Until then, residents are encouraged to kill the lanternflies with a swatter, a wet dry vacuum or by stomping on them, according to Swackhamer. Every female fly killed will reduce next year's population by 100, she said.

            Shive identified a pocket knife as a good tool to scrape eggs, the size of quarter, off a tree. He estimates already removing roughly 200 masses, which includes 30 to 50 eggs per tree, which would eliminate between 18,000 and 30,000 flies next summer.






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