WASHINGTON, D.C. – A bipartisan group of congressional lawmakers are teaming up against an invasive species: the spotted lanternfly. It’s been around areas like Pennsylvania and New York for a couple of years but lawmakers worry the damage this invasive species can do to our economy and food.
“This is an invasive species its really taking over,” said Rep. Mike Kelly (R- PA). “It has grown to such great proportions. It can destroy entire crops. It hops from one plant to another.”
Rep. Kelly is referring to the spotted lanternfly. It’s native to China but was first detected in Pennsylvania in September 2014. It has since spread to 51 counties in the state. Lawmakers said studies estimate the destructive species could cost the state 324 million dollars a year if they’re not contained by ravaging crops critical to the state’s economy.
To address this issue, members introduced legislation that would designate the spotted lanternfly as an invasive species that poses a significant threat to our nation’s agricultural economy, as a high-priority research initiative for the national institute of food and agriculture.
Representative Kelly is one of the cosponsors of the legislation in the House. Both of Pennsylvania’s Senators Bob Casey (D- PA) and John Fetterman (D- PA) along with both of New York’s Senators Chuck Schumer (D- NY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D- NY) are sponsoring it in the Senate.
Senator Casey said in part the legislation “will provide Pennsylvanians with resources to combat the spotted lanternfly’s spread, mitigate its impact, and protect our food sources and our families.”
“The investment would be what we can do to eliminate it, that might be through the legislative piece that would be the Farm Bill somehow its in there,” said Rep. Kelly. “I’d ask for a more intense look at what is going on. Put science to work on this and see what we can do. Our request would be for an investment for people who know how to work with these things and let them do their job.”
If you see the spotted lanternfly, lawmakers and officials are encouraging you to do your part by squashing and killing it.