Another Pennsylvania invasive species at this hunter's doorstep
This past week I received a notice from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture warning me to be on the lookout for a relatively new invasive insect, the spotted lanternfly (lycorma delicately).
I’m assuming this notice went out to the homes of those people who live in the present quarantined locales – which is currently comprised of 14 townships in Berks, Bucks and Montgomery counties in southeastern Pennsylvania.
The lanternfly is not new to me however. This colorful but destructive insect was first pointed out to my eyes two years ago by a friend familiar with this bug, while we were both leaving a section of woods we had hunted with bow and arrow that particular morning. The accompanying photo is of my hand holding a lanternfly from that morning.
The lanternfly is native to China, India and Vietnam, but has also been introduced to South Korea and Japan. This invasive prefers the tree of heaven (ailanthus), also known as the paradise tree, itself an invasive from southeast Asia. It is also known to love grapes and other trees and vines of various fruits, along with hardwood trees. Thus, it was determined by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and the United States Department of Agriculture to be a definite threat to both the fruit and hardwood industries within Pennsylvania.
I’ve seen the destruction these moth sized bugs can cause. A few of my hunting spots have plentiful growths of paradise trees, and where the adult lanternfly and their egg masses have resided, there is a long run of tree sap at different spots on the tree’s trunk as a result of the lanternfly puncturing the bark. This “weeping sap” also invites wasps, bees, hornets and various ant species to dine on the outflow of the tree’s lifeblood, exposing the tree or shrub to disease and fungus, and ultimate death.
I live within one of the quarantined districts, and although I’ve not seen a lanternfly near my home, I do not have to drive far to find them. Whenever I visit one of those areas I do my best to check for the bug on any wood I take, and my vehicle.
I cannot even begin to list all of the invasive plants, animals, insects and deadly diseases from other parts of the world that now call America their home. Some are here by intentional release, most by accidental liberation, the ultimate result of the promised glory and riches from worldwide trade and travel.
I doubt anyone in the position to consider what harm might occur or could have occurred from invasive species and diseases hopping a ride while trading and traveling with and from foreign lands ever measured the possibilities of damage or sickness, foreseeing only dollars and more dollars.
But I’m on the other end of this spectrum, never seeing the money, only the threat, because my personal reality constructs as I sit up in a tree waiting for deer – too often spending time looking at a hundred invasive bugs swarming around the trunk of an invasive species of tree – knowing full well those creepy, colorful pests could soon be attacking a native growth, and wrecking one of the resident Pennsylvania organisms of the forest, orchard and field that took nature eons to perfect.
What a stupid and greedy world we have shaped.