The spotted lanternfly is poised to invade Maryland for the first time this spring. The invader has harmed important crops including grapes, fruit trees, hop plants and hardwoods, and left gardens, decks and patio furniture covered in goo.
The spotted lanternfly’s U.S. invasion has crossed the border from Pennsylvania into Maryland.
The Maryland Department of Agriculture issued a quarantine Monday in an effort to contain the invasive species in Cecil and Harford counties after the spotted lanternfly was, well, spotted in Cecil’s northeastern corner and along Harford’s northern border.
The speckled, four-winged insect is native to China, Vietnam and parts of India. A shipment of stone arrived in Berks County, Pa., from Asia nearly five years ago with lanternfly eggs attached. The insect has spread since to other parts of that state and to parts of Delaware, Virginia and New Jersey.
Spotted lanternflies feed on more than 70 types of plants and crops, including grapes, hops, apples and peaches as well as oak and pine trees. Because lanternflies attach themselves to many surfaces, they easily travel from place to place and they have no native predators.
The quarantine restricts the movement within the quarantine zone of regulated items such as construction waste or plants that may contain the spotted lanternfly in any of its life stages. Other regulated items include landscaping or remodeling waste; packing materials such as wood boxes or crates; vehicles; and other outdoor items, according to the department of agriculture’s news release.
A recent state survey found that both Cecil and Harford counties have established populations of the invasive species. The state has attempted to reduce the lanternfly populations by treating about 2,700 trees in those two counties.
Businesses, municipalities and government agencies that need to move any item covered by the quarantine within or from the quarantine zone must have a permit, which can be obtained online for free through Penn State Extension, the state department of agriculture said in its release.
Spotted lanternfly permits for Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia are also valid in Maryland. Maryland is developing its own training and permitting system for spotted lanternfly, the department said.
Anyone found in violation of the quarantine order will be subject to a $500 fine for first violation and up to $1,000 fine for subsequent violations, according to department spokesman Jason Schellhardt.
State officials are asking those living within the quarantine zones to be vigilant in containing the spread of spotted lanternfly.
Residents who believe they’ve found a spotted lanternfly also are asked to snap a picture of it, collect it in a plastic bag, freeze it and report it to the Maryland Department of Agriculture at DontBug.MD@maryland.gov.
Dead samples from any life stage can be sent to the Maryland Department of Agriculture Plant Protection and Weed Management Program at 50 Harry S. Truman Parkway, Annapolis, MD 21401.