SPECIAL TO THE GAZETTE
An invasive fly from central Asia has made its way to North America.
The Spotted Lanternfly is an invasive plant hopper native to parts of China, Taiwan and Vietnam. It infests economically significant plants including soybeans, grapes, and stone fruits. In its native habitat, populations are kept in check by parasitic wasps. There are no such wasps here.
“It is invasive to South Korea, Japan, and most recently, the northeastern United States,” explained the Invasive Species Centre’s Emily Posteraro. “Any plant, animal, insect or pathogen that is new to an area and which also causes harm to the environment, economy or society, is considered to be invasive.”
Ms. Posteraro hosted a spotted lanternfly detection and reporting workshop at the Bloomfield Town Hall on Thursday last week.
Its first discovery in North America was in Berks County, Pennsylvania, in 2014. Now approaching the Canadian border, it has become a threat.
A large infestation will damage grapevines and other tender fruits. It represents a real threat to Ontario’s multi-billion wine and fruit industry as well as to the ornamental nursery industries.
The Niagara region is vulnerable. Back and forth travel to the United States, and high-density acreages of grapes, fruits and hops could provide an opportune foothold to the Lanternfly, which will then continue to migrate north.
“The Spotted Lanternfly can be transported anywhere in Canada,” said Ms. Posteraro. “They will lay their egg masses on any hard surface. This includes vehicles, stones, metals, packing materials and more. When the eggs are transported, they easily invade other places.”
Agriculturally diverse areas like Prince Edward County lie directly in the cross hairs of the Spotted Lanternfly.
The insect feeds in swarms on more than 70 species of trees and plants. They feed on fruit sugars, which disrupts regular nutrient circulation in the host plants, including grapes, fruit trees and hardwoods. Host trees include common ones — apple, black walnut, and red maple.
The preferred tree, however, is the Tree of Heaven, an invasive plant that has been here since the 18th century.
“It is probably the fastest growing tree in North America, and it thrives in environmentally disturbed areas,” said Ms Posteraro. “This is the preferred but not necessarily the only host of the Spotted Lanternfly.”
To help minimize the spread, avoid planting Tree of Heaven, check any vehicles for egg masses and nymphs when travelling around affected areas, and check for egg masses from late fall to early spring on hard surfaces such as trees, stones, and patio furniture. Scrap egg masses into a plastic bag filled with alcohol to ensure they die.
“The earlier a species is detected, the easier it is to either eradicate it or keep it contained and managed,” explained Ms. Posteraro
If you see any signs of Spotted Lanternfly, report them to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) at www.inspection.gc.ca/pests EDDMapS Ontario by calling 1-800- 563-7711, or by going to www.eddmaps.org/Ontario. For more information on Spotted Lanternfly, please visit Invasive Species Centre at www.invasivespeciescentre.ca