The spotted lanternfly isn’t in California yet, but it’s catching the eye of the California agriculture industry. During a brown marmorated stink bug talk at the Sustainable Ag Expo, The Vineyard Team’s Dr. Craig Macmillan said he called an associate on the East Coast to get some information on the stink bug but was urged to inform growers about the spotted lanternfly. The pest was found in Pennsylvania in 2014 and has aggressively spread to 13 counties in the state with reports also in New York and New Jersey.
The pest is large, around two inches in length and is a planthopper contrary to its name. The lanternfly is known to feed on over 70 different hosts including agricultural, ornamental and forest species. Penn State Extension’s website said tree of heaven is the pests preferred food source. However, grapes are its second choice. The bug feeds on trunks and shoots of plants and Macmillan said his colleague said it invests in a biblical manner with thousands of lanternfly traveling together much like locust.
The concern of accidental spread is exacerbated by the bugs tendencies. Macmillan said the spotted lanternfly will lay eggs on any flat surface and has shown an affinity towards rusted metal. Macmillan hypothesized that was for camouflage reasons. He also noted that Allentown, which is in the middle of the 13 quarantined counties in Pennsylvania, is home to a major train rail hub.