The quarantine area for the spotted lanternfly has been extended by the PA Department of Agriculture and changed from municipal to county-level in an effort to protect at-risk areas. The following counties are quarantined, and residents in these areas should take caution to "look before you leave" to avoid spreading this invasive insect pest: Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, and Schuylkill. The quarantine now includes areas where the insect is not yet confirmed, but where there is a high risk of its rapid spread beyond the region.
The spotted lanternfly is an inch-long black, red and white spotted insect native to Southeast Asia. An invasive species in South Korea, it has attacked 25 plant species there that also grow in Pennsylvania. It spread throughout that country, which is roughly the size of Pennsylvania, within three years. The pest had not been seen in the United States prior to the fall of 2014, when it was found in Berks County.
The state is asking the public and those traveling through quarantined counties to:
- Scrape egg masses from trees or other surfaces, double bag them, and throw them in the garbage, or place the eggs in alcohol or hand sanitizer to kill them. Egg masses, which are laid in the fall, are initially waxy-looking, grey-brown blobs, and later look like dried mud. Each egg mass contains 35-50 young spotted lanternflies.
- Check vehicles for egg masses before leaving an infested area.
- Buy firewood locally. Do not take it with you when you leave.
- Check lawn furniture, wood products, construction materials, tarps, lawnmowers, trailers and other items stored outdoors before bringing them in for the winter, covering them or moving them.
- Do not transport brush, yard waste, remodeling or construction waste outside quarantined areas.
Anyone who finds the insects or egg masses outside quarantined areas should report sightings to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include photos, if possible, to help confirm the sighting. Suspect specimens can be submitted to the department’s headquarters in Harrisburg or to any of its six regional offices. Specimens in isopropanol or rubbing alcohol can be submitted to county Penn State Extension offices. You may also call the Invasive Species Report Line at 1-866-253-7189. Please provide details, including the location of the sighting, and your contact information. Calls may not be returned immediately, as call volume is high.
Businesses that move goods can also play a role. Companies in quarantined areas must obtain a Phytosanitary Certificate or compliance agreement from the department to move articles outside the area. Those moving materials within a quarantined county need a permit to help ensure egg masses or insects are not spread beyond already-infested areas. Businesses should contact a Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture regional office to ensure that they are complying with quarantine restrictions and not spreading insects or eggs.