More than $17 million in emergency funding has been allocated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to stop the spread of the spotted lanternfly in southeastern Pennsylvania. The pest is a threat to fruit in the state, including apples, grapes, peaches and stone fruit.
“We’ve seen a dramatic expansion in the range of this pest over the last year and we need to take decisive action to prevent the spotted lanternfly from spreading throughout Pennsylvania and into neighboring states,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a news release. “We have the tools to fight this invasive insect and -- together with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture ... we have developed an area-wide approach that will begin before the pest starts to re-emerge in the spring.”
The spotted lanternfly was first identified in Pennsylvania in 2014, according the release. The affected area expanded from 174 square miles in fiscal year 2016 to approximately 3,000 square miles by the end of fiscal year 2017.
“I am pleased to see USDA acting quickly on the invasive spotted lanternfly, which is wreaking havoc on Pennsylvania’s agricultural producers and landowners in 13 counties,” Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., said in the release. “This pest is a threat to apples, grapes, peaches, stone fruits and various tree species throughout Pennsylvania. These funds will go a long way in helping the Commonwealth treat, gather data and perform the coordination needed to contain the spread of this devastating threat.”