HARRISBURG, PA (WITF) — Pennsylvania is looking for new ways to fight the invasive spotted lanternfly, nearly five years after it was first discovered in Berks County.
Despite the commonwealth’s efforts, the pest is spreading to other states.
Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding told lawmakers at a recent budget hearing the strategy to fight the invasive insect so far has been to contain and suppress the population.
That’s done partly though quarantines and educating people on what the bug and its offspring look like, so eggs can be destroyed as they’re found.
But Redding said the pest has now been found in New Jersey and Virginia.
“This spotted lanternfly has proven to be everything we feared. It’s difficult to control. It is invasive economically, socially, and environmentally,” Redding said.
Redding noted Pennsylvania has had a difficult road as the first state to deal with the problem.
“There’s no reservoir of research or expertise in the United States on this pest, so we’re building that. We’ve got 20 projects to try to develop the science, develop the response to it, but it’s going to take a little more time,” Redding said.
The spotted lanternfly poses a threat to the commonwealth’s $18 billion fruit and timber industries.
Pennsylvania has committed $3 three million in state funds to research solutions to the problem. The federal government has given an additional $17 million.