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Bad Bug: Berks County Areas Quarantined to Fight Lanternfly

Five townships and two boroughs in Berks County have been placed under quarantine by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture in the fight against the Spotted Lanternfly, which was found for the first time in North America in the county earlier this fall.

The quarantine prohibits residents from moving any material or object that could help the spread of the insect, which attacks grapes, apples, stone fruits as well as pines.

The lanternfly is an inch-long red, black and white spotted insect and is native to China, India, Japan and Vietnam.  It poses a threat to fruit orchards and grape vines.

“It could possibly devastate [the industries], and that’s why we’re trying our best to make sure we can find the egg masses and we can get rid of the masses,” said Samantha Krepps, press secretary for the department of agriculture. “That’s why we’re asking people in Berks County to help us.”

Residents in the newly-quarantined areas – Hereford, Rockland and Washington townships and the boroughs of Bally and Bechtelsville – are encouraged to keep an eye out for egg clusters, which typically inhabit wood products, brush or yard waste, remodeling or construction materials and outdoor household articles.

“These egg clusters sort of look like a mud smear, so it can be on any flat surface,” Krepps said. “[It could be on] sidewalks, it could be on your car, it could be on the bark of a tree.”

District and Pike townships have been quarantined since Nov. 1.

Those who find an egg cluster are being asked to scrape it off and throw it away or send it to the department’s entomology lab for testing.

“Before you put materials such as patio furniture and lawnmowers and grills away, check to make sure that there are no egg masses on these particular items,” Krepps said.

Krepps said the quarantine does not restrict the movement of people.

“All we’re asking is if your truck has been parked outside for a while and you haven’t driven it, just take a look at the wheels. Take a look at the tires. Take a look around the car or truck,” Krepps said. “If you see any egg masses, scrape them off, put them in a Ziploc bag and you can throw them in the trash.”

If you have any information on the Spotted Lanternfly, email badbug@pa.gov or call the Bad Bug hotline at 1-866-253-7189.