Alien Invaders


Andrew WeidmanI have seen the enemy, and it is — a bug. Well, a plant hopper, really, a big one. It's the Spotted Lanternfly, and it's pretty well entrenched in Southeast Pennsylvania by now. They were first reported in 2014, in Berks County, not very far from my home. The best guess is they hitchhiked into the country as eggs on a skid of landscaping stone.


The PA Dept. of Ag is doing its best to stop them, enforcing a quarantine area of two or three townships in Berks County. Today, the quarantine covers 13 counties in Pennsylvania, including Lebanon county, and they've been reported in New York (a dead adult), Delaware (a live adult), and Virginia (multiple live adults and eggs). I've been told the Virginia sighting is just off Interstate 81, in Virginia's fruit and wine country.


Father's Day weekend, I got to see the little beasties live and in the flesh. "Little" is a relative term, here; the adults are about an inch long and just under a half inch wide, with a wingspan of just under two inches, pretty impressive for a plant hopper. They're pretty distinctive, too, decked out in red, white, black and grey wings.

The ones I saw that Saturday, however, were a good bit smaller. They were little jet black nymphs adorned with stark white polka dots, and could have sat comfortably on a pencil's eraser. By now, they've most likely added bright carmine red to their color scheme.

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