SPRINGFIELD, IL – The uninvited guest has landed. Illinois’ Department of Agriculture rang the alarm bells as the invasive Spotted Lanternfly (SLF) made its debut in the state, threatening to taint outdoor experiences and potentially hitting agritourism hotspots, such as orchards, pumpkin patches, and vineyards.
First spotted on September 16, a coordinated multi-agency response led to the confirmation of SLF’s presence by September 26. While the pest is not harmful to humans or animals, its nuisance factor cannot be understated.
Scott Schirmer, the man overseeing nurseries in Illinois, quipped that while no trees are likely to die, “This is likely going to be a nuisance pest that interferes with our ability to enjoy outdoor spaces and may have some impact on the agritourism industry, including orchards, pumpkin patches, and vineyards.”
SLF, an eastern Asia native, first sneaked into the U.S. via Pennsylvania in 2014. Since then, it has embarked on a U.S. tour, marking its territory in states like Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. Its menu is vast, from the invasive tree of heaven to cultivated grapes and maple trees. Keeping this in check is a monumental task, given its knack for hitching rides on wood products, vehicles, and more.
Dr. Michael Woods pointed out the urgent need to understand SLF’s movements and behavior, emphasizing collaborations with various partners to gauge the infestation’s extent.
As for everyone else? The rallying cry is simple – Report, Destroy, Inspect, and Educate. Spotted one? Send a snapshot to firstname.lastname@example.org. Crush any you find, inspect your vehicles and belongings, and most importantly, spread the word. Every pair of eyes helps!