Invasive species of plant pests destroys Ohio’s crops

The pests suck the nutrients out of plants, causing them to wilt and eventually die
Published: May. 23, 2023 at 8:33 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - There’s a little bit of a plant pest problem here in Northwest Ohio with spotted lanternflies are roaming about.

The invasive species came to the United States in 2014, infesting Eastern Pennsylvania. Since then, they have spread to other parts of the country, wreaking havoc on crops.

The pests suck the nutrients out of plants, causing them to wilt and eventually die, according to Jonathan Shields, the Agriculture Inspection Manager with Ohio’s Department of Agriculture.

“They’re plant hoppers, and what they do is they feed on the sap from plants. So they have these piercing mouth parts that are kind of like a straw... you can think like when you’re drinking a capri sun,” Shield said.

They also produce significant amount of waste, promoting the growth of black soot-like mold.

Professor Pavuk is a biology professor at BGSU. He warns these pests are detrimental to the agriculture in Ohio specifically, because of the types of crops grown in the state.

“Grape growers, tree fruits like apples and other tree fruits are affected severely,” Professor Pavuk said.

In their early stages, they aren’t easy to spot, but they spread incredibly easy.

“It looks like a patch of mud and they lay their eggs on tree trunks on gas grills, on bicycles, on paving stones... on all kinds of everything,” Professor Pavuk said.

Since we are nearing the end of spring, the lantern fly is in it’s hatching stage. During the first part of their lives, they are black with white polka dots. As they age, they molt and develop colorful wings.

“They’re very distinctive, so when people see them, they are able to identify them as spotted lantern fly. And we want them to report them to us,” Professor Pavuk said.

Both experts say if you spot a spotted lantern fly, it’s important to report it to the department of agriculture. You can find that form here.

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