Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding today encouraged business travelers to join more than 1.2 million people at 26,000-plus companies across the U.S. and Canada who have learned how to recognize Spotted Lanternflies and keep from giving the destructive pest a ride to a new home. A permit is required for business travel, regardless of type of cargo, since hitchhiking is the primary way the invasive insect spreads to new areas.
“Spotted Lanternflies don’t check to see what you’re transporting,” said Redding. “They hop on anything in their path and hitch a ride to a new home. It only takes one egg mass or one pregnant female insect to start an infestation. Ask anyone who lives in Southeast Pennsylvania — you don’t want this pest in your neighborhood, you certainly don’t want it dining on the crops that feed our economy, and you don’t want to be the business that brought it home.”
Last week, the department announced the addition of eight counties to Pennsylvania’s Spotted Lanternfly quarantine zone ahead of the 2021 spring hatch. In addition to special requirements for companies that produce or ship agricultural goods, the quarantine requires companies whose employees travel for business in and out of Cambria, Cameron, Franklin, Lackawanna, Montour, Pike, Wayne, Westmoreland counties as well as the 26 previously quarantined counties to have Spotted Lanternfly permits.
Obtaining a permit involves taking a brief online course to learn how to recognize the insect at every phase of its lifecycle and how to inspect vehicles and contents to prevent transporting the insect. Each company determines which of their employees should have a permit. A company with a permit can then tailor training specifically for inspecting the types of vehicles they use and the cargo they transport.
Businesses outside the agriculture industry whose employees have lanternfly permits include Pennsylvania state agencies and the legislature. A map and list of companies that have obtained permits, along with the number of business travelers represented, is on the department’s website, as well as information to help businesses determine who is required to have a permit.
“Human travelers pose the biggest risk when it comes to spreading Spotted Lanternflies,” Redding said. “To protect our quality of life, our businesses like stadiums and restaurants that depend on their customers enjoying the outdoors, and the tens of thousands of jobs that depend on agriculture, we must all do our parts. If you run a business in the quarantine zone or travel to and from the quarantine zone for work, get a permit. Learn how you can keep from spreading this destructive pest.”
Counties added to the quarantine in 2020 and 2021 have isolated insect populations, as opposed to widespread infestations. In many instances, it is clear the insects got there by hitchhiking, since they do not travel great distances on their own. Transportation corridors, such as major highways, railways, trucking centers and tourist destinations, have been a top priority in the strategy the department and the USDA have followed in efforts to control the spread of the insect.
Quick, aggressive treatment of newly identified Spotted Lanternfly populations in Pennsylvania has been funded through the Rapid Response Disaster Readiness line of Governor Tom Wolf's Pennsylvania Farm Bill for the past two years. The 2021-22 PA Farm Bill proposes another $3 million to combat Spotted Lanternfly.
Since 2015, the department has received more than $34 million to combat Spotted Lanternfly in Pennsylvania – $20 million in federal funds and another $14 million in state investment. The department also awarded more than $260,000 in January for four priority research projects. These investments have funded the work of researchers learning how to control the insect in an environment where it doesn’t belong, as well as the work of those putting the research into practice and preventing its spread.
For more information on Spotted Lanternfly, visit agriculture.pa.gov/spottedlanternfly. For more about Governor Wolf’s PA Farm Bill investments in a sustainable agriculture industry visit agriculture.pa.gov/pafarmbill.