An Invasion of Lanternflies Coming to Maryland

An Invasion of Lanternflies Coming to Maryland

Lanternflies

The spotted lanternfly is poised to invade Maryland for the first time this spring. The invader has harmed important crops including grapes, fruit trees, hop plants and hardwoods, and left gardens, decks and patio furniture covered in goo.

It appears to have caused more damage in less time than any invasive insect to arrive in the mid-Atlantic region, and it’s proliferating more rapidly than the researchers trying to learn about it can handle.

“If it does here what it has done in Pennsylvania, people are going to go crazy,” Mary Kay Malinoski said. “Our goal is going to be just to try to manage the problem and slow it down. This is really a nasty critter.”

Experts say a recent population explosion north of the Mason-Dixon line means the bug is all but certain to appear in northeastern Maryland sometime this spring, possibly as soon as in April.

Because lanternflies attach themselves to many surfaces, they easily travel from place to place. Emilie Swackhamer, a horticulturist with Penn State Extension, urges everyone to check their clothes before getting into their vehicles.

“They’re annoyingly friendly, and once you open your car door, they’ll jump right in,” she says. “We want people to be aware of what they look like and prevent them from hitching a ride.”

The lanternfly evolves in appearance as it passes through five developmental stages.During its first few weeks, it resembles a shiny black jewel covered with white spots. The spots are replaced by a brilliant red by midsummer. When the lanternfly reaches adulthood, it’s about an inch long and half an inch wide, and its grayish-brown wings — mottled with black spots — frame a bumblebee-yellow body.

If you observe any egg masses or insects which look similar to this, please try to collect them, and inform the Maryland Department of Agriculture here.

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