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Spotted lanternfly business permits now needed for all Butler County businesses

The spotted lanternfly damages plants as it sucks sap from branches, stems and tree trunks. The repeated feedings leave the tree bark with dark scars. Spotted lanternfly also excretes a sticky fluid, which promotes mold growth and further weakens plants and puts agriculture and forests at risk. Lance Cheung/USDA photo

While agricultural businesses are used to quarantines on products for diseases and pests, all types of businesses are going to have to get used to a few extra steps when it comes to the transportation of goods.

Earlier this week, Butler County was added to the counties in the state Department of Agriculture's quarantine zone for the spotted lanternfly.

This means all businesses that operate in or travel through quarantined counties are required to obtain a Spotted Lanternfly Business Permit through the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

“Lanternflies will attach to anything,” said Shannon Powers, state Department of Agriculture press secretary. “It doesn’t matter what you’re carrying.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture placed Butler County under a spotted lanternfly quarantine after Jackson Township and Cranberry Township were confirmed to be infested with the insects. Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture image

For Butler County, the species or its larva has only been seen in Cranberry and Jackson townships according to Diane Dallos, Master Gardener coordinator for the county's Penn State Extension office.

However, this has forced the Department of Agriculture to place all of Butler County in the quarantine zone.

“I know I have seen them in Cranberry Township last summer,” Dallos said.

There is no cost to businesses to obtain this permit, which includes a quick test on the department’s website, along with tips on how to check vehicles for the insects.

“It just takes a little bit of time to go online and know you’re a risk to other businesses and people’s quality of life,” Powers said.

Once a business owner obtains the permit, it then falls on them to train their employees on what to look for when transporting goods in and out of the quarantine zones.

“It’s kind of a train-the-trainer concept,” Powers said. “The company determines who needs a permit, like who travels in and out of an area where there are spotted lanternflies.

“The basic test of it is, are employees traveling for business in and out of an area that has spotted lanternflies,” she added. “Whether they’re delivering pizza or whatever that business does.”

Spotted Lanternfly: What to Look For. Image from Master Gardener website

Powers did say there could be fines given out to businesses if they don’t obtain a permit or if they don’t follow the proper procedures, but she said the department has not had to fine anybody at this point.

Fines are enforced by the Department of Agriculture and any infestations should be reported back to it so the progress of the lanternflies can be tracked.

“Most Pennsylvania businesses have been very cooperative,” Powers. “They don’t want to ship materials that have lanternfly eggs on them. They don’t want to be called out.”

Lanternflies have the ability to attach themselves to anything, Powers said, and it doesn’t matter what types of goods a driver might be carrying.

“They have shown to be able to hang on at high speeds,” Powers said.

More information and how to obtain a permit can be found at pa.gov/spottedlanternfly or by emailing slfpermit@pa.gov.

“It’s a very quick and easy permit test,” Powers said. “Penn State Extension has been managing that for us. They are funded by the state to teach people about agriculture. They also staff the hotlines where people report spotted lanternflies. That helps us know track where they are cropping up.”

This is an adult spotted lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula, photographed in Pennsylvania, on July 20, 2018. Stephen Ausmus/USDA-ARS photo

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