The invasive spotted lanternfly is continuing its westward march across Pennsylvania, with state agriculture officials nearly doubling the number of counties in a quarantine zone meant to limit the pest’s spread.
A dozen counties were added to the list Tuesday, including Allegheny and Beaver in western Pennsylvania, several counties in the central region and Luzerne and Columbia in the northeast. The additional counties are not “completely infested,” according to the agriculture department, but individual municipalities are battling the pest.
Twenty-six of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties are now under quarantine, requiring businesses that move products, vehicles and other items in and out of the quarantine zone to obtain a permit.
Native to Asia, the large, colorful planthopper sucks sap from valuable trees and vines, weakening them. It produces a clear, sticky, sugary waste. Besieged residents have been killing them by the thousands.
“It’s wreaking havoc for home and business owners; kids who just want to play outside; Pennsylvania agriculture and the economy of the state we all call home,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said in a news release. “Whether you think it’s your job or not, we need every Pennsylvanian to keep their eyes peeled for signs of this bad bug — to scrape every egg mass, squash every bug, and report every sighting,”
First detected in the U.S. in 2014, in Pennsylvania’s Berks County, the lanternfly overran the state’s southeastern corner before spreading into New Jersey, Delaware and Virginia.
A recent Penn State study found the spotted lanternfly is costing the Pennsylvania economy about $50 million and eliminating nearly 500 jobs each year.