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March 08, 2019

Eight Delaware zip codes bordering Pa., N.J. quarantined for lanternfly threat

Pests Insects
spotted lanternfly fungi Photo courtesy/Pennsylvania Dept. of Agriculture

Since 2014, the spotted lanternfly has spread across 14 counties in Pennsylvania and could cost Pennsylvania's fruit and tree industries more than $18 billion. New research using fungi to attack the pests has scientists 'cautiously optimistic.'

The spotted lanternfly, the invasive insect which infamously has flooded eastern Pennsylvania summers since 2014, has Delaware on edge.

The state declared emergency quarantines last week for 11 different Delaware zip codes in New Castle County, eight of which border either Pennsylvania or New Jersey. The affected zip codes are 19702, 19703, 19707, 19711, 19801, 19802, 19803, 19805, 19808, and 19810, and include Wilmington and Hockessin.

Under the quarantine, the state is asking everyone in the affected zip codes to inspect any recreational or camping items, household items, building materials, and yard and garden items before transporting items out of the quarantined zone.

Delaware’s Department of Agriculture issued a spotted lanternfly checklist — with the punny catchphrase, “Have you spotted me?” — aimed at raising awareness about how many places the insects can be found.

"When you move an article within or out of the quarantine area, we’re simply asking for you to do a visual inspection of that item,” Delaware Department of Agriculture Plant Industries Administrator Jessica Inhof told WDEL. “Whether it be a load of stone, playground equipment, or your vehicle, just do a visual inspection for egg masses this time of year.”

The Department of Agriculture also created a hashtag for Delaware residents to use on social media: #HitchHikerBug. Delaware wants anyone who sees a spotted lanternfly to take a picture, and upload it using a geotag and the hashtag. You can also email a report of a spotted lanternfly sighting to a designated email if you don’t feel like surrendering your phone’s current location.

Earlier this month, Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said Pennsylvania and Penn State University are putting 150 researchers and experts in charge of studying the bug and controlling its spread in 2019. Eradication won’t happen in Pennsylvania this year, Redding said, but it’s the end goal.

In Delaware, the goal is to get ahead of the insects before they need eradication at all.

“The impact of this pest to Delaware is large, with $8 billion of Delaware’s economic activity related to agriculture ” Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse told Delaware Surf Fishing. “Delaware has a lot to lose if we do not gain control over the spotted lanternfly.”

A hitchhiker lanternfly was seen in Delaware’s Kent County last fall, the first sighting in that county.

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