Malagari, Hanbidge bring agriculture experts and lawmakers together to raise awareness about the spotted lanternfly

SOUDERTON, July 23 -- State Reps. Steve Malagari and Liz Hanbidge, both D-Montgomery, led a public discussion Monday to raise awareness about the rising threat of the spotted lanternfly. 

"The invasive insect is destroying trees, crops, landscapes and properties right here in Montgomery County," Malagari explained. "The first step in protecting our communities is through education, specifically focusing on the dangers and what residents can do to help stop the spread of this pest."

More than 100 people attended the event. Participants in the informational forum at Dock Mennonite Academy EC-8 Campus had the opportunity to ask questions, voice concerns, and learn about ways to detect and remove the destructive planthopper, including egg scraping and tree banding.  

"The agriculture industry in Montgomery County and surrounding counties plays a critical role in driving our local economy and creating and sustaining jobs," Hanbidge said. "The spotted lanternfly is putting the success of our local communities and Commonwealth at-risk. This event was an important step in sounding the alarm to prevent further damage to agriculture in our communities."  

The discussion was a collaborative effort that included Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding, state Sen. Maria Collett, D-Montgomery/Bucks, Democratic chairman of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne, and representatives of Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences. 

"As part of the recently enacted Pennsylvania Farm Bill, I voted in favor of devoting $3 million to increase resources to help combat this destructive bug, and I'm dedicated to working with my colleagues to pursue further long-term solutions," Collett said. 

“Our aggressive team strategy, research and education have made headway,” Redding said. “Together, we have educated millions, but our work is not done until every single person visiting, living, or working in the quarantined area knows how to recognize this destructive insect and keep from unknowingly spreading it.”

Montgomery County is part of a quarantine area designed to stop the movement of the spotted lanternfly to new areas and slow its spread within the quarantine.

More information about the spotted lanternfly can be found on the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture's website