Invasive pest that can wipe out crops spotted in Lancaster County

LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) – A pest that has been in Berks County now appears to be in the Midstate. The spotted lanternfly has been spotted in parts of eastern Lancaster County.

The pest feeds on more than 70 kinds of plants and trees and can wipe out entire crops.

“[I wonder] are they just accidental immigrants that are being brought in, or do we have a breeding population,” said Dr. Tim Elkner with the Penn State Extension in Lancaster County., said.

Elkner says the exotic insect, which is about the size of a quarter, will focus on woody trees, walnut trees, apples and grapes. He said

“What they do is they feed on the sugar in the sap,” he said. “They’re not 100 percent efficient at taking all the sugars out. They excrete the waste and that drops down below. So it creates a sticky mess on whatever is down beneath there.”

Elkner said a frost will kill the adults, but the eggs will survive the winter.

Anyone who believes they see the insect or the eggs should call the Invasive Species Hotline at 1-866-253-7189.

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