After 2 years of keeping the invasive pest in New Castle County with vigilant tracking, removal and control of the population, Spotted Lanternflys are now in Kent County.
But according to Environmental Program Administrator Jessica Inhof, the Delaware Department of Agriculture says the goal isn’t to eradicate the insect anymore.
“They reproduce so quickly and in such great numbers that we’re not sure eradication is the answer but control, and slowing the spread so we can prepare,” Inhof said.
Inhof says controlling the population will help farmers better prepare for the insects and enable them to protect their crops from a swarm.
The Ag Department is looking into using natural forms of pest control, such as using fungi or natural predators, to limit the spread of Lanternflies.
But researching those options might take a while, because Inhof says they don’t want to introduce a new invasive species that could spread out of control, and create a whole new problem.
Inhof says this winter will be essential to limiting the spread further south.
“Egg mass scaping throughout the winter will be essential and if you can eliminate them from your property or you think you’ve eliminated them from your property then you have a better chance of eliminating the adults,” said Inhof.
Kent County now joins New Castle on the state’s quarantine list. Inhof says this is to prevent spread. People are encouraged to check their cars for any eggs before they travel outside of the county.
She says Lanternfly eggs can be laid on any flat surface, and look like a smear of mud. If found, eggs should be scrapped off, and then crushed or soaked in rubbing alcohol to kill them.
Inhof says it could be impossible to completely destroy the bugs, because they breed in such large numbers and can be hard to find.
Anyone who finds Spotted Lanternfly adults or eggs should report them at HitchHikerBug@delaware.gov to help the Ag Department track populations, especially in Kent County.