By Molly Daly

BUCKS COUNTY (CBS) — The US Department of Agriculture has announced it’ll pony up more than $17 million in funding to fight an invasive insect that poses a threat to Pennsylvania’s crops.

The Spotted Lanternfly was originally found in parts of Berks County but since has expanded to parts of neighboring counties in the last fours years.

The Lanternfly is a sap-sucking plant hopper which emerges as a black and white nymph, but will later add red to its wardrobe as it grows.

Osama El-Lissy, Deputy Administrator at the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, says $17.5 million in federal money will fund a two pronged strategy to suppress, and is hoped, eradicate the pest, with the federal government managing the infestation’s outer perimeter.

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“The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture will take the lead in carrying out suppression activities in various parts within the infested areas,” El-Lissy said.

He says although details are still being worked out, surveys of the Lanternfly’s host plant, the invasive Tree of Heaven, will start before winter’s end.

“We’ll be looking for egg masses, so we will be prepared to control and suppress the population as soon as possible,” he said.

  1. Tree of Heaven is very invasive plant. It is still being sold by some plant catalogs. The urban settings are notorious for this tree which dreads to unused, vacant lots, etc. Educating people to research before buying is imperative. This will help stop insect’s host.

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