The antidote is truck drivers. Because the lanternfly isn’t a particularly good flyer, it travels mostly by hitching rides on trucks, trailers, and even cars. They lay eggs wherever they can, and the state’s Department of Agriculture is urging truck drivers to help stop the spread of these bugs.
“The eggs the adults lanternflies lay look like a smear of mud, they’ll lay on anything,” said Dana Rhodes of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, adding that truck drivers in the affected states should be “ doing an inspection to remove any living life stage of these insects before you move.”
Right now, regardless of load type, if you have trucking operations or routes in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, where there are spotted lanternfly quarantines, new rules have been put in place requiring drivers and warehouse workers to take training in how to properly inspect vehicles and loads for infestations. Virginia also has a quarantined county, but has not yet mandated training.
The lanternfly is known to eat crops, including fruit trees, hardwood, hops, and more. Some have even reported that the pests were responsible for 90% of crop losses.
“The best way we can prevent the movement of the lanternfly is to provide education, to raise awareness of those who are living in the quarantine, and those that are doing business in and out of the quarantine,” said Rhodes.
As of December 2018, in order to operate in the quarantined areas as a fleet, you must have a permit that outlines you have received adequate training. The process in getting a permit involves the fleet manager taking a 2+ hour course from Pennsylvania’s State Agricultural Extention and then from there he or she must order permits and train all his/her drivers and workers.
For more information on the spotted lanternfly and how you can get training, click here.