UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — This is the time of year when thousands of students, families and football fans are coming to University Park, and Penn State officials want to make sure those visitors are not transporting the spotted lanternfly, an invasive insect that is threatening the northeastern U.S., especially southeastern Pennsylvania.
The planthopper, native to Asia, has the potential to harm Pennsylvania's economy by damaging crops, landscapes and natural ecosystems, including the grape, tree-fruit, hardwood and nursery industries.
Vigilance is especially important as the pest’s egg-laying season is quickly approaching, noted Heather Leach, Penn State’s spotted lanternfly extension associate.
“With the volume of visitors heading to campus now, we are concerned that they may unknowingly spread the insect during their travels,” she said. “And keeping this pest from reaching beyond the current 14-county quarantine zone is critical while we work toward control solutions."
To share that message, Penn State has launched a multimedia public-awareness campaign asking visitors to campus, especially those coming from southeastern Pennsylvania, to take the following precautions before traveling:
Walk around your vehicle and check closely for any spotted lanternfly adults and/or nymphs; particularly check the windshield wiper area, bumpers and wheel wells. In fall and winter, also look for egg masses, which have the appearance of mud splatters.
Check any piece of equipment or item that you will be transporting that has been outdoors in the quarantine area — such as grills, tents, tables or yard games.
Do not park your RV or other vehicles under trees. Keep your windows up at all times.
Check yourself before getting into any vehicle to make sure there are no spotted lanternfly nymphs or adults on you.
Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences and Penn State Extension are leading a multistate, interdisciplinary task force consisting of government, industry and agriculture representatives who are working together to identify specific strategies to combat the spotted lanternfly.
For more information about how to identify and control spotted lanternfly, how to report an infestation and how to comply with quarantine regulations, visit the Penn State Extension website at https://extension.psu.edu/spotted-lanternfly.