Authorities confirm first sighting of spotted lanternfly in Maryland

Maryland officials say they have confirmed the first sighting of a spotted lanternfly, a non-native invasive species that is known to be destructive to dozens of plants and crops.

The adult spotted lanternfly was found on a trap in Cecil County near the border of Pennsylvania and Delaware, according to the Maryland Department of Agriculture.

Officials say they do not believe there is an established population of the spotted lanternfly in the state so far.

"The spotted lanternfly has been on our radar since Pennsylvania's first sighting in 2014," said Maryland Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. "The Maryland Department of Agriculture's Plant Protection and Weed Management Program and our partners have been proactively monitoring for spotted lanternfly across the state in an effort to keep the destructive pest from establishing a population in Maryland. By staying ahead of the spotted lanternfly we can keep our farmers' crops and the state's agricultural industries safe."

"Luckily, we found the first spotted lanternfly towards the end of the season and the confirmed spotted lanternfly is a male, which means it did not produce any egg masses in the state," said Kim Rice, the department's Plant Protection and Weed Management Program Manager. "It is extremely important that businesses, agricultural operations, farmers, and homeowners in Maryland, especially in Cecil County, are aware of this pest, its potential consequences, and how to identify it. Early detection is key to stopping the spotted lanternfly from spreading."

The insect, which originated from Asia and is native to China, Vietnam and parts of India, is a threat because it feeds on more than 70 different types of plants and crops, which include apples, grapes, peaches, hops, oak and pine, officials say. It was first detected in Berks County in Pennsylvania in 2014. In addition to Pennsylvania, populations of the spotted lanternfly have also been confirmed in Virginia, Delaware and New Jersey.

The Maryland Department of Agriculture says it will conduct surveys and inspections throughout the fall and winter for any spotted lanternfly egg masses on trees.