Harrisburg, PA - As Spotted Lanternflies hatch across much of the state, PA Department of Agriculture crews have begun to spray an insecticide that kills the insects on contact along railways, interstates and other transportation rights-of-way. Contact spraying is a new element of strategic efforts to slow the spread of the invasive pest, which moves primarily by hitching a ride on vehicles traveling out of infested areas.
The insecticide has been thoroughly researched and found to be safe for use in the areas being treated. However, Pennsylvanians on the hyper-sensitivity registry will be notified prior to spraying in their areas.
“Spotted Lanternflies threaten our quality of life outdoors and destroy valuable products that feed our economy,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “We are working diligently and strategically to control this pest in ways that are safe for the people, pollinators, plants and animals that share the environment it threatens.”
Spraying reaches peak effectiveness when between 75 and 100% of insects are hatched. Spraying has begun in southeast and southcentral PA, where the insect’s hatch is farther along and will be scheduled elsewhere as hatching progresses in areas of the state with known insect populations. The invasive pest will be active and will reproduce and spread until fall frosts.
Contact pesticides containing the active ingredient bifenthrin are being applied using backpack sprayers and truck-mounted spray equipment. These products are approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and are applied by highly trained, licensed department personnel and contractors strictly following all product label requirements.
Product use will be limited by several factors, including weather, location and the safety of surrounding natural ecosystems. Bifenthrin is known to be toxic to fish, so no spray will be applied near water. Applicators will also avoid spraying flowering plants to protect pollinators.
Research teams and applicator crews are conducting regular environmental sampling throughout the treatment process to monitor impacts on water, soil and sensitive populations to limit any unintended consequences.
Pesticides containing bifenthrin are also available in several brand-name products for purchase by homeowners. Learn more about controlling Spotted Lanternfly on your property on the Penn State Extension website.
There are 34 Pennsylvania counties quarantined to control the spread of the invasive insect. Recently quarantined counties have isolated insect populations, rather than widespread infestations.
Quick, aggressive treatment of newly identified lanternfly populations has been funded through the Rapid Response Disaster Readiness line of Governor Wolf’s Pennsylvania Farm Bill for the past two years. The 2021-22 PA Farm Bill proposes another $3 million to combat Spotted Lanternfly and other invasive species.
Since 2015, the department has received more than $34 million to combat Spotted Lanternfly in Pennsylvania, including $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.
For more information on Spotted Lanternfly, visit agriculture.pa.gov/spottedlanternfly. For more about Governor Tom Wolf’s PA Farm Bill and its investments in a sustainable agriculture industry visit agriculture.pa.gov/pafarmbill.
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