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Invasive fly bugs local park

Logan Township supervisors this week granted permission for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to treat trees in Greenwood Park and along township rights-of-way for spotted lanternflies — damaging pests found recently along Old Sixth Avenue Road and along the Chestnut Avenue/North Fourth Avenue corridor.

Lanternflies were discovered locally despite Blair County being about 100 miles from Dauphin County, the westernmost of 14 counties in the southeastern part of the state that have been quarantined to help contain the problem.

The department plans to focus on trees of heaven, one of the invasive insect’s favorite targets and an invasive species itself, according to Ag Department forester Ethan Park, who made a presentation to the supervisors.

Lanternflies — native to China, Bangladesh and Vietnam — attack about 70 species of plants, piercing the bark of trees to feed on sap and secreting a sugary substance during their feeding called honeydew that promotes the growth of black sooty mold, according to Park.

Lanternflies cause the oozing of sap, the wilting and curling of leaves and tree dieback, and they are a threat to grape, apple and hops orchards and the hardwood industry, according to a Department of Agriculture webpage.

Swarming lanternflies can also make outdoor activities miserable in spring and summer, according to the webpage.

Lanternflies spread mostly by “hitchhiking” as they aren’t good flyers, according to Park.

Park will be applying the herbicide Garlon, whose active ingredient is triclopyr, by the “hack and squirt” method to affected trees, according to Park.

The trees will be left in place to die, and even if they need to be felled to prevent damage to buildings or vehicles, they’ll remain on the properties where they grew to prevent spreading the bugs, Park said.

Park will also be using the insecticide dinotefuran, which is marketed as Safari or Transtect, he said.

The herbicide and insecticide won’t cause environmental problems, Park said, in answer to questions from Supervisor Ed Frontino and Chairman Jim Patterson.

Among species of trees attacked by the pest are maples, walnuts, oaks and aspens, although the lanternfly isn’t known to kill those trees, like it kills the trees of heaven, Park said.

Park has set up a treatment priority list, and Greenwood Park is at the top, he indicated.

He will be asking permission to treat problem areas on other properties, including business properties, he indicated.

Lanternflies have been found in Perry, Juniata, Mifflin and Centre counties, but there aren’t infestations there, according to a map on a Cornell University webpage.

There are three main stages of a lanternfly’s life — egg, nymph and adult, according to Park.

The eggs are laid on tree trunks, fenceposts rocks and other hard surfaces and the masses persist from October to June, according to a webpage from Ken’s Gardens in Lancaster County. Lanternflies are easiest to kill during this stage by scraping the eggs into a bag or other container and covering them in hand sanitizer or alcohol, according to a Penn State Extension card provided by Park.

Nymphs are active from May through September. They’re black with white spots initially later have red spots, according to Ken’s Gardens’ webpage.

Lanternflies are most destructive during their winged adult stage — although they feed on sap as nymphs and adults.

The adult stage includes the egg-laying period, from September to December, when females lay two masses of 30 to 50 eggs each, according to Ken’s.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.

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