State looking for bugs, egg masses as spring approaches

The Delaware Department of Agriculture announced March 1 that they are quarantining 11 ZIP codes in New Castle County to eradicate, control and prevent the spread of spotted lanternfly in Delaware and to surrounding states.

The spotted lanternfly is an invasive planthopper that attacks many hosts including trees, shrubs, orchards, grapes and hops. Due to quarantines in other states, interstate commerce will be impacted if the pest is transported out of the Delaware quarantine area.

Fact sheet for residents (PDF download): https://agriculture.delaware.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/108/2019/02/Delaware-Residential-Spotted-Lanternfly-Factsheet_2.28.19.pdf

“We understand this quarantine will impact businesses and homeowners; however, it is required if we have any chance to control this nonnative, destructive pest. With the hatching of egg masses and the presence of adult lanternflies, the population has grown and requires treatment and control efforts,” said Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse.

“The impact of this pest to Delaware is large with $8 billion of Delaware’s economic activity related to agriculture. When you look at our orchards and vineyards, nursery and landscaping industry, and forestland and timber sales, you are looking at more than $1.9 billion alone. Delaware has a lot to lose if we do not gain control over the spotted lanternfly.”

The following ZIP codes in New Castle County have been quarantined in their entirety: 19702, 19703, 19707, 19711, 19801, 19802, 19803, 19805, 19807, 19808 and 19810. The quarantine can expand if there is reason to believe that the pest has moved to a nonquarantined area. A quarantine means that any material or object that could harbor the pest cannot be moved without taking precautions to prevent the spread.

The female spotted lanternfly lays egg masses of 30-50 eggs wherever it chooses, especially on flat surfaces. Other life stages of this insect from nymphs to adults can fly, hop or drop onto a vehicle — meaning this pest can be transported to new areas where it can create another infestation.

Examples of regulated articles include any living life stage of the spotted lanternfly; landscaping, remodeling or construction materials; firewood of any species; packing materials such as wood crates, boxes; plants and plant parts including live and dead trees, perennial and annual plants and mulch; and outdoor household articles like RVs, lawnmowers, chairs, grills, tarps, tile, stone, deck boards and other vehicles not stored indoors.

To move regulated items, the general public will need to complete a residential compliance checklist indicating that they inspected and know that no living life stage of the spotted lanternfly is present on the articles. The checklist is available at de.gov/hitchhikerbug.

Any person conducting business for a commercial business, municipalities or a government agency that requires movement of any regulated item within or from the quarantine area must have a permit, available through the DDA spotted lanternfly website. To obtain a permit, a designated individual from an organization must receive training and pass an online test to demonstrate a working knowledge and understanding of the pest and quarantine requirements. Training of other employees, inspection of vehicle and products and removal of living stages of spotted lanternfly must be completed. The permit demonstrates the individual understands how to identify the pest and can ensure the items transported are not carrying the insect.

The initial Delaware detection of spotted lanternfly was in Wilmington in fall 2017. In 2018, DDA Plant Industries inspectors along with USDA staff conducted surveys around the area where the initial detection was found. The surveys demonstrated that spotted lanternfly had multiple established populations in northern New Castle County.

For more, visit de.gov/hitchhikerbug or call 698-4632. When leaving a message, leave contact information and, if reporting a sighting, provide the location.