The highly invasive lanternfly has already been spotted in two counties of Indiana and one county in eastern Michigan, so insect experts know it’s only a matter of time before the sap-sucking insect shows up in Michiana.
Agencies in both states have made an effort to spread the word about the planthoppers first found in Pennsylvania in 2014 and have now spread to about a dozen states east of here because they can cause significant damage to a wide variety of plants. crops and plants.
The bug originated in China and most likely arrived in the United States via imported cargo from Asia, according to the US Department of Agriculture. And while it prefers to feed on the invasive Tree of Heaven, it can also seriously damage grapes, apples, hops, walnuts and hardwood trees by sucking sap from branches, stems and vines.
Farm and food:From Catalonia to California, it’s been a long, hot summer
If left unchecked, a 2019 Penn State University study estimates that the bugs could cause $324 million in annual damage in Pennsylvania alone. But the good news is that states that have experienced previous infestations have learned that lanternflies can be controlled with common agricultural insecticides, said Michael Reinke, a pest control educator at Michigan State University.
“We are in a different world than five years ago,” Reinke says. “We now have a lot more tools that we know work. We are ready and have been preparing for it for several years now.”
In southwestern Michigan, vineyard and orchard owners may need to add an extra spray each year or adjust the timing of their spraying to keep the destructive insects at bay, Reinke said.
In Indiana, the lanternfly was first discovered last summer in the province of Switzerland in southeastern Indiana. In July, they were found in Huntington County near Fort Wayne, according to a Purdue University release.
Cliff Sadof, a professor of entomology and Purdue Extension fellow, said the migration poses a significant agricultural risk to wine grape growers and walnut tree producers. Although the spotted lanternfly feeds on more than 100 different species of plants, Sadof said, the insect can only reproduce if it feeds on walnut trees, vines or the tree of heaven.
In addition, Purdue warned that beekeepers should be wary of the pests, as bees will take advantage of the honeydew secreted by the lanternflies, which can tarnish the honey, giving it a darker color and less desirable taste.
In Michigan, lanternflies were found in Oakland County in early August, and officials are now exploring truck stops, campgrounds, distribution centers and other places where the hitchhiking bugs could also show up, Reinke said.
2019:Spotted lanternfly, a new invasive pest, aims to consume our grapes, hops and fruit trees
When people travel from eastern states, experts say they should be on the lookout for insects that may be on their vehicles, RVs, or camping gear, as well as egg masses that are about an inch long and resemble a splash of light gray or brown mud.
“If you see them around, take pictures and report it to the state,” Reinke said. “Better yet, try to catch a live specimen as there are some similar looking insects out there.”
In addition to insecticides, entomologists are also working on attractants that could be used to trap lantern flies, but so far those efforts have been unsuccessful, said Reinke, an entomologist.
In Michigan, the wine and fruit industries mean hundreds of millions of dollars a year to the state economy, Reinke said. And while insecticides are available, additional pesticide applications will come at a cost to growers, and a pest can incur significant costs as strict measures are imposed to contain the insects’ further advances.
Ultimately, Reinke believes farmers will not be the only ones fighting the bugs, as they will eventually migrate to more urban areas, especially if there is a tree of heaven and other plants to support them.
“Like most other pests, once they’re there, they’ll stay,” he said. “We can control and manage, but probably not eradicate.”
Be alert:West Nile Virus Detected in St. Joseph and Elkhart Counties
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources is asking residents to seek out and report spotted lanternfly sightings. Anyone who sees the insect should photograph it and send the image and location to DEPP@dnr.in.govor call 1-866-No-Exotic.
Those who spot a lanternfly in Michigan should call an Extension office or use the Eyes in the Field online report form. Learn more about the invasive insect at Michigan or Indiana sites dedicated to the insect.
Email Ed Semmler at email@example.com.