It was found on a trap in the northeast corner of Cecil County near the border of Pennsylvania and Delaware, the agriculture department said. An insect-world example is the emerald ash borer, which destroys ash trees. The snakehead fish is another predatory invader from abroad.
In announcing the spotted lanternfly sighting, the agriculture department said it was the first to be confirmed in Maryland. In a statement, the department said it did not think there is an established population in the state.
Among other things, finding the insect helps demonstrate the extent to which international trade and travel can bring unwanted, non-native species into this country.
Although perhaps not as well known as other notorious winged pests, the spotted lanternfly is nevertheless pernicious and highly undesirable, according to the department.
It presents a “major threat” the region’s agricultural industries, feeding on more than 70 types of plants and crops, including grapes, hops, apples, peaches, oak and pine, the department said.
From its native territory in Asia, it spread to the eastern United States, according to the department. A hitchhiker and a plant hopper, the pest was found first in the fall of 2014 in Berks County, Pa.,, according to the department.
Since then, it has spread to 13 Pennsylvania counties, with confirmed populations found in Delaware, Virginia and New Jersey.
As a defense against the winged enemy, the state has maintained a posture of vigilance.
It has been on our radar since Pennsylvania’s first sighting, said Maryland Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder.
To prevent the lanternfly from establishing itself in Maryland, the agriculture department and associated groups have been “proactively monitoring for spotted lanternfly across the state“ he said in a statement.
Staying ahead of it will make it possible to keep the state’s crops and agriculture safe, he said.
If there is good news on the lanternfly front, it may be that it was discovered late in the season,and that it was male, said Kim Rice, another Maryland agriculture official, meaning it did not produce any egg masses in the state.
However, Rice, the department’s plant protection and weed management program manager, called for awareness and vigilance. “Early detection is key to stopping the spotted lanternfly from spreading,” Rice said in a statement.
Somewhat akin to the brilliantly colored ash borer, the lanternfly too has an pleasing appearance. Its spotted wings include individual sections that are black, brown, tan and bright red.