PITTSBURGH — Tailgates, football games and festivals. It's a busy time for people to be zig-zagging across Pennsylvania and that's causing new fears from the state. They don't want an invasive bug, the spotted lanternfly catching a ride into our area.
"It's an invasive pest that feeds on a lot of other plant species and it puts our agriculture and our forests and our backyards at risk," said Heather Leach, Penn State spotted lanterfly extension associate.
Right now, it's all over Southeastern Pennsylvania and as far West as State College.
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"If people are coming from Southeastern Pennsylvania then they could be spreading this insect," said Leach.
The state is so concerned about it, it has a hotline up and running and you can also report sightings online. The spotted lanternfly was first found in Southeast Pennsylvania in 2014
Penn State has joined the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to stop the bug from spreading. The spotted lanternfly is native to China, India and Vietnam and feasts on crops that are important to our state.
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"It's threatening our grapes, our tree fruit which then in turn threatens our wineries, cideries, things like that" said Leach.
Fourteen counties in Southeastern PA including Berks, Lancaster and Montgomery are under quarantine right now. It means certain items cannot be taken out of these areas. The state also has started a "look before you leave" campaign encouraging people to check cars and trucks, so they don't accidentally give one a ride outside the quarantine. That's how they think the spotted lanternfly got as far as Centre County last year.
"That was one of the first tailgate home games for Penn State and a kid found a spotted lanternfly and brought it," said Leach.
RELATED LINKS: Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
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