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Ag Progress Days spotlights spotted lanternflies, plant diseases, robots in ag


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Spotted lanternflies, invasive plant diseases, robots in agriculture and education, and foreign animal diseases will be among the topics highlighted in displays and presentations at the College of Agricultural Sciences Exhibits Building and Theatre during Penn State's Ag Progress Days, Aug. 13-15.

Native to Asia and found for the first time in the United States in Berks County in 2014, the invasive spotted lanternfly has spread to 14 counties in southeastern Pennsylvania — a region that the state Department of Agriculture has designated as a quarantine zone. The pest also has been found in neighboring states.

The planthopper feeds on sap, weakening plants and leaving behind a sugary excrement called honeydew, which promotes the growth of sooty mold, while attracting other insects and creating a sticky mess that can render outdoor areas unusable. The pest threatens Pennsylvania's grape, tree fruit, hardwood and nursery industries, which collectively are worth about $18 billion to Pennsylvania's economy.

Ag Progress Days visitors can speak with Penn State spotted lanternfly experts, learn how to identify the various life stages of the insect, and find out how they can help contain and manage lanternfly infestations.

Residents from any of the counties under quarantine going to Ag Progress Days or to any other locations inside or outside the quarantine area should inspect their vehicles before traveling to be sure they aren't transporting spotted lanternflies, which are known to be good hitchhikers. More information about spotted lanternfly, the state quarantine and how to report a sighting is available on the Penn State Extension website.

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