ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Maryland Department of Agriculture has confirmed that a single adult spotted lanternfly has been found on a trap in the northeast corner of Cecil County near the border of Pennsylvania and Delaware. This is the first confirmed sighting of the invasive species in Maryland, and the department does not believe there is an established population of the pest in the state.
The spotted lanternfly poses a major threat to the region’s agricultural industries as they feed on over 70 different types of plants and crops – including grapes, hops, apples, peaches, oak, pine and many others. Originally from Asia, the spotted lanternfly is non-native to the U.S. and was first detected in Berks County, Pennsylvania in the fall of 2014. As a known plant-hopper and hitchhiker, the spotted lanternfly has spread to 13 counties within Pennsylvania and has confirmed populations in Delaware, Virginia, and New Jersey.
“The spotted lanternfly has been on our radar since Pennsylvania’s first sighting in 2014,” said Maryland agriculture secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “The Maryland Department of Agriculture’s Plant Protection and Weed Management Program and our partners have been proactively monitoring for spotted lanternfly across the state in an effort to keep the destructive pest from establishing a population in Maryland. By staying ahead of the spotted lanternfly we can keep our farmers’ crops and the state’s agricultural industries safe.”
The department’s plant protection and weed management program continues to work with the University of Maryland Extension, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ), and others to monitor the insect in Maryland via trap surveys. The department has also launched outreach and education campaigns aimed at agricultural operations and the general public. There is no spotted lanternfly quarantine for businesses or homeowners in Maryland at this time.
“Luckily, we found the first spotted lanternfly towards the end of the season and the confirmed spotted lanternfly is a male, which means it did not produce any egg masses in the state,” said Kim Rice, the department’s plant protection and weed management program manager. “It is extremely important that businesses, agricultural operations, farmers, and homeowners in Maryland, especially in Cecil County, are aware of this pest, its potential consequences, and how to identify it. Early detection is key to stopping the spotted lanternfly from spreading.”
Throughout the fall and into the winter the department will continue to conduct surveys and visual inspections for spotted lanternfly egg masses on the tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima)—the spotted lanternfly’s preferred tree to feed on. As cold weather continues to set in, adult spotted lanternflies will start to die off, and egg masses can be seen from now until late spring. Come spring time, egg masses will hatch producing 30-50 black and white-speckled nymphs.
If you suspect you have found a spotted lantern fly egg mass, nymph, or adult, snap a picture of it, collect it, put it in a plastic bag, freeze it, and report it to the Maryland Department of Agriculture at DontBug.MD@maryland.gov. Deceased samples from any life stage can be sent to the Maryland Department of Agriculture—Plant Protection and Weed Management at 50 Harry S. Truman Parkway, Annapolis.
The Maryland Department of Agriculture has set up a website for more information about the spotted lanternfly. Check it out at mda.maryland.gov/spottedlanternfly.
Photo courtesy Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture