The Mottled Lantern: The Pest Threatening the East Coast Economy

Sen. Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., is pushing for an additional $22 million to be allocated for the extermination of the spotted lanternfly, an invasive species of insect that has the potential to cause millions of dollars in damage to the East Coast economy.

Native to the Asian continent, the spotted lantern is a leafhopper that feeds on more than 70 different plant species. It lays its eggs on outdoor surfaces in the fall, such as tree bark, outdoor equipment and vehicles, and is believed to have reached the United States via a shipment of rocks from China. . The bug was first spotted in the United States in Berks County, Pennsylvania in 2014 and has since spread to 11 states, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

But it’s not the mottled lantern’s presence alone that has farmers and economists nervous — it’s the millions of dollars in crops, tourism and jobs that this pest threatens, according to researchers in Pennsylvania.

The Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences reported that if the spotted lanternfly is not properly contained, Pennsylvania alone will lose at least $324 million per year and about 2,800 jobs. The pest feeds on the sap of “fruit, ornamental and woody plants” that are crucial to the state’s economy, such as the timber and wine trade. The mottled lantern also excretes a sweet waste product that acts as a breeding ground for molds and fungi.

“Our results demonstrate that the vigorous response of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, the United States Department of Agriculture, the State of Pennsylvania, and industry stakeholders to limit the spread of the spotted lanternfly is clearly justified – our economy depends on it,” said Jayson Harper, professor of agriculture. economics and director of Penn State’s Fruit Research and Extension Center.

Schumer says the spotted lanternfly has also been a threat to New York’s economy.

“For years I have warned of the pest, but now we are demanding action as pockets of upstate New York are now infested with the insect which is wreaking havoc on trees, vineyards and cultures,” Schumer said at a press conference in Central Park. , a site currently infested by the Spotted Lantern Fly. “This is a multi-million dollar threat to New York’s economy – tourism and agriculture are now at risk if the spotted lanternfly is not controlled.”

According to The Hill, New York’s wine and grape industry has an economic impact of $6.65 billion annually, creates more than 71,000 jobs and generates five million tourist visits annually. Additionally, New York’s apple industry compares to $1.3 billion in total economic output, 8,000 jobs created, and produces just under $4 million in gross domestic product for the New York economy. ‘State.

The Department of Agriculture has already invested $200 million in eradicating the pest, NBC New York reports, but Schumer requested an additional $22 million in the budget plan presented on Sunday to help with extermination efforts. The state quarantined interstate shipments and conducted trapping surveys to track the spotted lanternfly population.

The general public has been warned of the bug’s presence, and the USDA has issued warnings and guides on how to properly identify and kill one of these sighted insects. The USDA urges anyone to report sightings of the spotted lanternfly by taking photos and sending information to your state’s Department of Agriculture or the appropriate links listed on its website.

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