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Beautiful but harmful: Spotted lanternfly invades Maryland, threatens crops

An adult spotted lanternfly. (Photo credit: Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bugwood.org)

An adult spotted lanternfly has been found in Maryland, the first one detected in the state.

The invasive species, originally from Asia, feeds on 70 different plants, including important crops, according to a statement from the Maryland Department of Agriculture.

The first spotted lanternfly found in the United States showed up in Pennsylvania in 2014. The species has also been found in Virginia, Delaware, and New Jersey.

Maryland officials say they have been on the lookout for the destructive pest to keep it from attacking the state’s crops. The first one in Maryland was found in Cecil County near the border of Pennsylvania and Delaware.

In February, a spotted lanternfly was found in Frederick County, Virginia near Winchester.

“Luckily, we found the first spotted lanternfly towards the end of the season and the confirmed spotted lanternfly is a male, which means it did not produce any egg masses in the state,” said Kim Rice, the department’s Plant Protection and Weed Management Program Manager.

Officials ask that anyone who finds a spotted lanternfly -- adult, nymph, or egg mass – to take a photo, put it in a plastic bag, and freeze it. It can then be reported to the Maryland Department of Agriculture at DontBug.MD@maryland.gov.

“It is extremely important that businesses, agricultural operations, farmers, and homeowners in Maryland, especially in Cecil County, are aware of this pest, its potential consequences, and how to identify it. Early detection is key to stopping the spotted lanternfly from spreading,” Rice said.


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