Pa. agricultural officials discuss potential new method of killing spotted lanternflies

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Pennsylvania agriculture officials are on a campaign to stamp out spotted lanternflies, literally.

"Squish them, scrape them, get rid of them."

At a news conference in Lancaster, Russell Redding said right now, that's the only way to kill the invasive insects that have decimated vineyards, orchards, and various other crops and trees. 

"They do a lot of eating and mating and then they set for next year," he said.

But Redding revealed another method of execution is currently in development at Penn State.

"So it's getting off the ground and getting in the air and trying to do some broad-based spray and control methods that allow us to cover more area, of course, but also do that in an environmentally sensitive way," he said.

Lanternflies first showed up in Berks County six years ago and have since spread to 26 Pennsylvania counties. An economic impact study from Penn State says the damage could cost the state up to $324 million while threatening the food supply if left unchecked.

"Every one of those spotted lanternflies is 50 next year because of the egg masses," said Redding. "So get rid of one today, it's 50 less next year."