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Spotted Lanternfly Causing Concern for Farmers in Schuylkill County

SCHUYLKILL COUNTY — About two weeks ago, the Spotted Lanternfly was first seen in Schuylkill County. “It is a piercing, sucking insect,” Penn ...

SCHUYLKILL COUNTY -- About two weeks ago, the Spotted Lanternfly was first seen in Schuylkill County.

"It is a piercing, sucking insect," Penn State Extension Master Gardener Coordinator Susan Hyland said.

Hyland said this is a fly the county doesn't want around. It's known to kill trees and other crops by sucking the juices out of them. She said the lanternfly goes after fruit trees as well as grape vines.

"That's going to harm the tree," Hyland said. "It's going to put it into a decline. It can actually take so much of the nutrients that it will die."

The Spotted Lanternfly is native to China, India, and Vietnam. Some of the flies were first seen in Berks County in 2014. The State Department of Agriculture believes it was brought to our area on a container ship.

Newswatch 16 spoke to Ralph Heffner, the owner of Jersey Acres farm. He's well aware of the insect.

"We know we do not have it here today," Heffner said. "That doesn't mean we won't have it tomorrow."

While he has not had any problems with the Spotted Lanternfly, he said a friend in Berks County does.

"We have a friend who grows a lot of grapes down in the Boyertown area and he's sort of in the midst of it," Heffner said. "His description of how many of them are laying on the ground after he's tried to spray to control them is sort of scary."

Hyland is hoping that more people will learn about the fly so they can help prevent the spread of them.

"That's our effort," Hyland said. "To make sure information, now, ahead of a serious infestation, can be in the hands of homeowners as well as growers in our county."

If you see a Spotted Lanternfly, you should contact the State Department of Agriculture at 866-253-7189 or visit this website.