The spotted lantern fly is a little bug that’s a major threat to local farmers.

Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Agriculture warned that the lanternfly is dangerously close to attacking Lake Erie Wine Country.

“These bugs come into these vineyards and they just destroy them,” said Nick Mobilia, Owner of Arrowhead Wine Cellars.

The insect targets grape vineyards. Although it has not been discovered in Erie County, Mercer County was added to the state’s spotted lanternfly quarantine list in March 2022.

“I can take you to vineyards in the Berks County area that we’re into year one. Two years later, they’re done. It’s as though you went through and torched the vineyard,” said Russell Redding, Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture.

“What they do is they land on tissue and start sucking the sap out of it, that’s how they survive. It weakens the plant and then the plant dies,” Mobilia said.

With Erie County accounting for 72% of all grape production in the state, it would be devastating to the local economy and the 250 wineries in the state that rely on Pennsylvania vineyards.

“We are picking 10, 12 tons an hour with these big machines. If these bugs get into the totes and into the cannery and the Department of Agriculture is expecting your loads and open up the bin and see all of these bugs in there, what are we going to do? That is going to be a huge economic loss for the farmers,” Mobilia said.

Mobilia said he had a plan in place to save his vineyard in case the spotted lanternfly made its way to Erie County.

“If they are there, we are going to have to spray insecticide on them and keep killing them,” Mobilia said.

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According to the Penn State Extension Office, if you see a spotted lanternfly, kill it. If possible, you’re asked to take a picture of it and contact the Department of Agriculture.

For more information on the spotted lanternfly, click here.

State officials also displayed the “Circle Traps” that they said are effective for stopping the spotted lanternfly.

To learn more on how to make your own circle trap, click here.