PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A tiny bug is now calling Pennsylvania home. The “Lanternfly” was spotted a few years ago in Bucks County but now it’s spreading to other parts of the state. Now, there are big concerns it could damage some Pennsylvania exports.
At full size, the lanternfly, or the Lycorma delicatula, are a little longer than two inches with their wings fully spread. And despite their beauty, they’re actually huge pests.
“They’re actually attractive and they’re brightly colored and easy to spot. It’s a leafhopper. It’s not really a fly,” said Anthony Aiello, who is the director of horticulture at the Morris Arboretum.
He says the insect likely came on a boat or plane from Asia in 2014 and they have no known enemies.
“Usually with native insects there are checks and some resistance in the plants. There are birds that would eat it,” said Aiello. “In this case, it’s sort of an unknown thing, which has really allowed it to expand and its populations to really explode.”
The lanternfly likes most hard woods. It also feeds on grapes and orchards.
These pictures posted online show the infestation in Gilbertsville, Montgomery County.
Sticky tape is a good way to trap the nymphs before they are able to hatch.
“You can use something like duct tape and wrap it so the sticky side is out and wrap it around the tree, pin in to the tree. So basically it’s sticky trap,” said Aiello.
Because the bug impacts so many different Pennsylvania industries the Pennsylvania’s Department of Agriculture has created an awareness campaign video hoping to track and limit the spread.
You may not realize this but Pennsylvania is the fifth largest producer of grapes nationwide and here at the vineyard and winery at Karamore Estate, eyes are peeled for that little pest.
“They’re almost like locusts. They come on in and you can lose entire crops over them. And they reproduce so quickly,” said Joseph Rienzi, a winemaker at Karamoor Estate.
He says the lanternfly hasn’t been spotted at the vineyard and the goal is to keep it that way.
“I do scouting so I will walk or drive the vineyard pretty much every week,” said Rienzi.