HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Fourteen Pennsylvania counties are under quarantine for the invasive spotted lanternfly.
Because the insects are spread by transportation, the Department of Agriculture is cracking down by making sure businesses traveling in and out of quarantine zones have a permit.
“They don’t fly very far. They get from one place to the other from hopping onto a car or a load of something that you are carrying,” said Shannon Powers, a spokeswoman for the Department of Agriculture.
The insect threatens $18 billion worth of popular commodities such as fruit trees, hardwoods, grapevines, and hops. The department is monitoring the entire state and receives thousand of reports weekly.
“The insects have hatched for the season and now they are becoming adults, so this is the time of year when the risk is the greatest of spreading them through our movements because they are great hitchhikers,” said Powers.
Dauphin County was put under quarantine in March. Since then, no other counties have been added to that list and the Department of Agriculture is trying to keep it that way. It is offering permits for companies or anyone that travels in and out of a quarantine zone on a daily basis.
Since implementing the permit system, the department has issued over 900,000 permits. Now, they are offering in-person permit classes.
“To learn what spotted lanternfly is, how to recognize it, and how to not take it with you when you go,” said Powers.
As of now, the Department of Agriculture has not had to issue any fines for businesses traveling without permits.