A spotted lanternfly has been found in a trap in Cecil County, raising concern that the invasive species could soon establish itself in Maryland.
The insects can damage or destroy crops and leave porches covered in goo.
The Maryland Department of Agriculture will conduct surveys throughout the fall and into the winter in search of any lanternfly eggs, in hopes of preventing it from gaining a foothold in the state.
“By staying ahead of the spotted lanternfly we can keep our farmers’ crops and the state’s agricultural industries safe,” Secretary Joe Bartenfelder said.
State agriculture officials have been on the lookout for the lanternflies since they were first seen in Pennsylvania four years ago. The lanternfly was found near the Pennsylvania and Delaware borders.
Officials are hopeful an invasion is not imminent, given the circumstances under which the lanternfly was found in Cecil.
“Luckily, we found the first spotted lanternfly toward 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,” Kim Rice, manager of the department’s Plant Protection and Weed Management Program Manager, said in a statement.
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.
The speckled, four-winged insect is native to China, Vietnam and parts of India. After a population was detected in Berks County, Pa., the insect has spread to 12 other counties in that state and to parts of Delaware, Virginia and New Jersey.
Researchers are still looking for an effective way to fight the pest. Earlier this year, the threat of a lanternfly invasion factored into the failure of a proposal to ban a pesticide in Maryland that has been linked to autism and developmental delays in children.