WEST CHESTER (September 30, 2020) – Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences hosted a research tour which reported new Spotted Lanternfly (SLF) findings, state Senator Andy Dinniman said. The research reports detail new ways to combat the growing Lanternfly infestation in Southeast Pennsylvania.
Of the six research presentations held, two focused directly on the SLF infestation.
“The issue with the Spotted Lanternfly doesn’t just stop at being a pesky bug,” Dinniman, who serves on the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, said. “These invasive creatures have had a devastating effect on our local agriculture, specifically our Pennsylvania vineyards, and we need to do everything we can to stop them.”
Julie Marie Urban, a Senior Research Associate at Penn State University, detailed her and her team’s findings through a study conducted at Blue Marsh Lake. Lanternflies attach to a wide variety of flora, causing them to be uniquely and specifically damaging to many Pennsylvania wildlife zones.
Urban’s studies focused on Lanternflies’ bacteriomes – bacteria which they store in their organs and are required for survival – and how they could potentially be disrupted to halt further Lanternfly reproduction. Similar research was started and conducted as far back as 1934, in China.
Heather Leach, an Extension Associate with expertise in the Spotted Lanternfly infestation, discussed the environmental damage seen from Lanternflies. In her and her teams studies, they found that vineyards are consistently a major target due to the Lanternfly feeding habits.
New to the study, however, are the greater psychological impacts that fighting the Lanternflies brings. 57 percent of growers in their study said that the Lanternfly changes their outlook on the future of their farm; 62 percent of growers say that the Lanternfly problem contributes either moderately or highly to their stress level.
There are, however, some bright sides to this. Leach’s team discovered new strategies with insecticide which both reduce the amount necessary to be sprayed, while still retaining a high number of Lanternflies killed.
You can find more about Penn State’s research on the Spotted Lanternfly, and ways you can personally help with the issue, here.
Dinniman also noted that a team of veterinarians at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine recently reported success in teaching dogs to recognize the scent of spotted lanternfly egg masses.
“While we still have a long way to go in eliminating the Spotted Lanternfly’s threat to agriculture and our economy, at least we seem to be making some progress in the fight against this invasive species,” he said.