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Spotted Lanternfly - the next big threat?

Spotted Lanternfly - the next big threat?

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27 Oct 21 Biosecurity News

Spotted Lanternfly - the next big threat?

Pennsylvania, USA, is currently dealing with an incursion of Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatua), and the information coming from this region is concerning. The numbers that this pest is building to may even exceed Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB). It results in large amounts of sooty mould growth, is a prolific hitchhiker and has a large host range that includes kiwifruit. Spotted Lanternfly is a known kiwifruit pest in its native range of China, but like many pests it appears far more damaging as an invasive pest with no natural predators to keep population numbers in check.

As part of his recent Nuffield Scholarship travels, KVH Director Simon Cook visited Pennsylvania where the SLF has been found and is proving to be harmful to a wide range of crops.

“I spent some time in one of the worst hit spots in the state, and even the local entomologist himself commented this was the most invasive pest he has ever seen - given they have been through Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) and Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) incursions that is a pretty telling statement. They’re seeing heavy infection and feeding on a wide range of fruit and vegetables, and the damage being done is so severe that it is thought to be the cause of grape vines failing to survive winter.”

“Unfortunately, SLF wasn’t picked up in Pennsylvania until a significant population had already established, making ongoing eradication attempts difficult. There is some relatively good news though, in that a second US incursion in Virginia suggests if we identify SLF early before a large population is present, we have a real chance at eradication. This incursion is around two to three years old now and is still limited to a small one-mile radius area, so it does take time for numbers to build, providing good control opportunities.”

KVH is taking this advice onboard and has included SLF as a feature pest in our upcoming calendar for front line staff at the port and transitional facilities and have included it in a review project to better understand the potential threats to our industry and how we may manage it. The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is also well aware of this threat and while there haven’t been any border interceptions to date, the risk of SLF would increase if this pest continues to expand its invasive range across the US.

Growers may also be interested to read more about this pest in a feature article in the New York Times.


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