Schneider associates are working to learn more about the spotted lanternfly to prevent the spread of the fly throughout the United States — and truck drivers play a key role.
What is a spotted lanternfly?
An invasive species from Eastern Asia, the spotted lanternfly has been found on the Eastern Coast and has had a destructive impact on the environment and business.
At rest, a fully-grown spotted lanternfly is approximately 1 inch long and a 1/2 inch wide. Their red hind wings are visible when they are startled or when they fly, but they primarily rest with their grey-mauve forewings folded over their backs. The red shows underneath the forewings, looking like a flame within a lantern.
Their eggs hatch in spring and grow through four nymph or instar phases until becoming an adult as early as July. Multiple life stages may be present at one time. For example, in early fall you may see fourth nymphs or instars, adults and even egg masses.
What you need to know about spotted lanternfly damage
The spotted lanternfly is not a threat to humans, as it does not bite or sting, so truck drivers do not need to worry about that.
Instead, the spotted lanternfly has a long, thin, piercing mouthpart called a proboscis that it inserts into the trunks, stems or leaves of host plants and feeds on the sap.
When eating from plants, the spotted lanternfly secretes a sticky, sweet liquid called honeydew. Eating in swarms, this sticky substance quickly accumulates on the plant, and a black sooty mold grows on it. The mold destroys the plant’s photosynthesis ability and kills the plant.
The spotted lanternfly prefers eating off another invasive species in the Northeast, a tree called “The Tree of Heaven”. The insect has quickly adapted to going after more than 70 plants. This has caused many issues for growers who rely on marketing these products, which has a dangerous impact to growth of commercial produce in these states.
How truck drivers can help stop the spread of the spotted lanternfly
The most important action in the fight against the spotted lanternfly is to stop it from spreading — both within the quarantine zone and especially beyond the quarantine zone. This is where all our associates working in or passing through the quarantine zones play a critical role.
As of the publication date, the spotted lanternfly has already spread to:
- 14 counties in Pennsylvania
- 4 counties in Northern Delaware
- 3 counties in Western New Jersey
- 1 county in Virginia
These states have established these counties as a Quarantine Zone. Any regulated article, including any living life stage of the insect, or accidental movement on trucks and trailers must not be allowed out of, or through, the quarantine zone. We must take steps to prevent the insects’ spread.
The insects are known as hitchhikers, as they not able to fly great distances on their own. Before moving trucks, equipment or supplies from an infested area, drivers will need to inspect for insects and egg masses on the equipment and destroy any they discover and report their inspections to the state.
Spotted lanternfly permit and training for truck drivers
In addition to reporting inspections, effective May 1, drivers who pass through the quarantine zones must take training on the spotted lanternfly and carry a permit.
Schneider drivers have been enrolled into a 15-minute training course and can find their electronic permits on Schneider’s Compass app under the safety and regulatory section. Additionally, permits and inspection forms can be found at Schneider facilities with Driver Services desks.
It is not required that drivers carry a printed form of the permit, as long as drivers can access the digital copy on their tablets at all times. For now, drivers must complete their inspections on the printed inspection form, but an electronic version is in production.
The bottom line about the spotted lanternfly invasive species
If it spreads, the spotted lanternfly will damage agriculture and business nationwide. Truck drivers are on the front lines of the national movement to prevent the spread of invasive species, including the spotted lanternfly.
Remember that spotted lanternflies will not harm people or animals, so associates are encouraged to swat, squish and smash!
Stay up to date on the spotted lanternfly
The State of Pennsylvania has a spotted lanternfly resource site set up, including a hotline to call. Stay informed and help eliminate this invasive species!