Spotted lanternfly nymphs have been found in York County, Pennsylvania, but it’s not yet clear if the pest has become established there.
USDA technicians made the determination on Tuesday after someone called in a tip. A multiday canvass for more lanternflies was still going on Wednesday, said Shannon Powers, spokeswoman for the state Ag Department.
The lanternfly is an invasive Asian insect that ruins grape plants, and has the potential to damage many other plant species.
The survey came to light on Tuesday when a York Daily Record reporter encountered a USDA technician looking for lanternflies.
But this was not the first time lanternflies have been found in York, or in neighboring Adams County, the hotbed of Pennsylvania’s fruit production.
An April 4 map from the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program shows that isolated lanternflies have been found across the Mid-Atlantic and southern New England, including 11 counties in eastern and central Pennsylvania.
Another 14 counties in southeast Pennsylvania with established lanternfly populations form a quarantine zone.
Businesses in these counties are subject to restrictions on the movement of vehicles and goods that could harbor hitchhiking lanternflies.
New Jersey, Delaware and Virginia also have small areas with established populations.
York County borders Lancaster and Dauphin counties, which are both under quarantine, but it’s too soon to say whether the recent sighting could lead to an expansion of the zone, Powers said.