PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) — Fears are growing in Pennsylvania about the spotted lanternfly, an invasive pest with no natural enemies in the United States. Now, agriculture officials are warning that the pest may wreak havoc on wineries and vineyards.
The lanternfly is now showing up in Philadelphia. At Love Park on Friday, Pennsylvania’s deputy secretary of agriculture was joined by others to highlight the threat that exists from the pest.
Of particular concern is agriculture — especially wineries and vineyards.
The yearslong infestation poses an existential threat to grapes that supply Pennsylvania’s $4.8 billion wine industry.
Dean Scott, who grows grapes for local wineries around Kutztown, has been spraying insecticide on his vines in an effort to keep the bugs at bay. It works for a few days, but they inevitably return. The carnage is evident in the blackened trunks of diseased grapes vines, and in the thousands of dead insects that litter the vineyard. One of Scott’s fellow growers left the business after losing 40 acres of vines.
“It’s depressing,” said Scott, whose vineyard produces 12 tons to 15 tons of grapes each year, and who is counting on it to help support him in retirement. “My fear is that if this continues, we’re going to lose the battle here in Pennsylvania.”
The spotted lanternfly was first discovered in Pennsylvania in Berks County in 2014. The bug has expanded its range into New Jersey, Delaware and Virginia.
Officials say that if you see one, you should kill it immediately.
(©Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)