State Announces $450K In Grants For Spotted Lanternfly Research
Researchers will be getting another $450,000 to study the invasive spotted lanternfly. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture last week announced nearly $1.3 million in research grants to advance the state’s agriculture and food industry. Spotted lanternfly-related research received about a third of the money, according to a news release from the department. The spotted lanternfly is native to parts of Asia and was first discovered in Berks County in 2014. The bug, which is known for its spotted light brown and pink wings, poses a threat to agricultural products. The bug harms plants by feeding on them and excreting a sticky-sweet substance known as honeydew that attracts other bugs and black sooty mold. Researchers have been trying to understand more about how the bug behaves in Pennsylvania and how to keep it from spreading. Thirteen Pennsylvania counties are under quarantine — meaning people should pay attention to whether they might be moving the bug outside the area — and now it’s been spotted in other states. Penn State will receive $100,000 to evaluate the spotted lanternfly’s impact on grapevine health and develop a more targeted approach to combating them; $90,000 to study which woody ornamental trees the bugs prefer and what that means for host tree health; $90,000 to protect bees from fungicides and from insecticides used to control spotted lanternflies; $67,000 to examine what factors affect the spotted lanternfly while it’s dormant; and $22,000 for other research that includes establishing a monitoring system for the invasive insect. Temple University will receive $75,000 to further approaches to model, predict and control the spread of the bug and its economic impact, and Delaware Valley University will receive $6,000 to study the efficacy of light traps to monitor the presence of the spotted lanternfly. Experts are trying to fill in the gaps in their knowledge about the spotted lanternfly. Penn State alone was working on about 20 research projects and had received about $800,00 for research, a spokesman said in August. Adult spotted lanternflies die off in cold weather, but their egg masses survive and hatch in the spring.