Spotted Lanternflies a Possible Threat to Norristown


Dougie Miller

This spotted lanternfly was found in a backyard by Marshall and Noble Street.

Christina Wong, Staff Reporter


Spotted Lanternflies have been seen in Pennsylvania ever since the year 2012, but recently, the insects have become more invasive. Sightings of the fast-growing insects were found in Pottstown and other nearby cities, with some sightings reported in Norristown. As the insects continue to multiply, they cause a threat to Pennsylvania’s agriculture and forest products, costing the state  millions of dollars.

In order for someone to understand the risk of Spotted Lanternflies migrating to Norristown, one must know what Spotted Lanternfly is. A Spotted Lanternfly is an invasive insect that is native to Southeast Asia. Although it is not possible for one to exactly know how they came to settle in the States, spectators have suspected that the Spotted Lanternflies came on a boat or plane that had been carrying imported goods in 2012 from Southeast Asia to Berks County, Pennsylvania.

The Spotted Lanternfly has distinct features, including two sets of vibrant red wings with black patches and white spots. The wings might also be grey with black spots. It will all depend on the age of the Spotted Lanternfly, though, they are quite easy to identify. Although the lifespan is recorded to only be about a year or two, a Spotted Lanternfly gives birth to at least 30-50 eggs each time. The more the insects multiply, the bigger the threat they become to Pennsylvania’s agricultural and forest economy.

Although they have not fully taken over as they have with other neighboring towns, it is possible for Spotted Lanternflies to completely invade Norristown.  A representative at PennState Extension, an organization currently taking action and figuring out how to stop the spread of the invasive insects, said, “Norristown is represented on the map.” This means that there have been multiple sightings of the Spotted Lanterfly in Norristown. 

With the Spotted Lanternflies invading and continuing to stay in Pennsylvania, the economy, towns, and cities are and will continue to be negatively affected. The Spotted Lanternflies pose a major threat to our state due to the fact that agriculture in Pennsylvania is very important. Forests cover up more than 60% of Pennsylvania’s land, and forest products are Pennsylvania’s second most exported product group. With the Spotted Lanternflies alive and thriving, it causes Pennsylvania’s economy to decrease, which will result in towns and cities losing money, causing taxes to most likely grow higher.

The representative offered several tips on what to do when someone spots a Spotted Lanternfly.  “We recommend you squash them,” he said. “But if they are on trees, we recommend you to spray the bugs with contact insecticide. We are trying to prevent the female Spotted Lanternflies from giving birth, because they breed a lot during the months of September through November.”

To ensure the safety of Pennsylvania’s economy, Pennsylvania’s government says it is vital for citizens to destroy eggs if seen and send a sample or picture to the state’s entomology lab, in order to ensure that the Spotted Lanternflies won’t multiply.