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Field Tour Offers Close-Up Look at Invasive Species Security

spotted lanternfly in hand

In August 2018, a diverse group of stakeholders gathered for the Entomological Society of America Plant-Insect Ecosystem Section’s Science Policy Field Tour, “Invasive Species Security: Protecting Our National Health, Food Supply, and Environment.” The 2.5-day tour visited the spotted lanternfly quarantine zone in Berks County, Pennsylvania; several affected orchards, vineyards, and hardwood and fir stands; the Port of Philadelphia; and the insect collection at the Drexel University Academy of Natural Sciences. (Photo credit: Thomas E. Anderson, Ph.D.)

By Thomas E. Anderson, Ph.D.

In August, 47 people from 20 different states, plus the District of Columbia and Canada, saw spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) for the first time in the field and learned of the damage caused by this new invasive pest, as well as other invasive insects such as the emerald ash borer, Asian longhorned beetle, brown marmorated stink bug, and balsam woolly adelgid. This group was gathered for the Entomological Society of America Plant-Insect Ecosystem Section’s Science Policy Field Tour, “Invasive Species Security: Protecting Our National Health, Food Supply, and Environment,” and the diverse audience of stakeholders included representatives from 16 different universities, 10 government agencies, six nongovernmental organizations, and three industry companies.

The 2.5-day tour covered a lot of ground, visiting the spotted lanternfly (SLF) quarantine zone in Berks County, Pennsylvania; several affected orchards, vineyards, and hardwood and fir stands; the Port of Philadelphia (the largest port on the East Coast for fresh produce imported from around the world); and a behind-the-scenes tour of the oldest insect collection in the United States at the Drexel University Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, founded in 1812.

Scientists from Penn State University described ongoing research programs for SLF, as well as management programs for other invasive species. Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture scientists described SLF quarantine and containment programs. Local farmers at Cherry Hill Orchard (Lancaster), Beekman Orchards and Vineyards (Boyertown), and Manatawny Creek Vineyard (Douglassville) provided descriptions and first-hand demonstrations of catastrophic losses from SLF.  A stop at a popular urban park, “The Pagoda,” in Reading, demonstrated the impact of SLF in more urban settings. And a stand of hardwoods and firs in Oley provided a close-up look at the impact of emerald ash borer, Asian longhorned beetle, and balsam woolly adelgid.

The discussions and learnings from this science policy tour—some of which were captured and shared on Twitter via the hashtag “#invasivespeciestour“—will be continued at the Grand Challenges Summit, “Addressing the North American and Pacific Rim Invasive Insect and Arthropod Species Challenge,” November 9-10, in Vancouver, Canada.

Heartfelt thanks go out to all the growers and scientists who contributed to field demonstrations on this tour:

  • Growers: Tom Hass, Cherry Hill Orchards; Calvin Beekman, Beekman Orchards and Vineyards; Darvin Levengood, Manatawny Creek Vineyard
  • Penn State Scientists: Hillary Peterson, Greg Krawczyk, Julie Urban, Charlie Mason, Erica Smyers, Robyn Underwood
  • Tracy Leskey, USDA-Agricultural Research Service
  • John Baker, USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)
  • Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
  • Port of Philadelphia: Bill Spence, APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine; Todd Edelscien, U.S. Customs and Border Protection
  • Jason Weintraub and Greg Cowper, Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences

Thomas E. Anderson, Ph.D., is an industry consultant and the owner of Entoniche Consulting, LLC, in Clayton, North Carolina. Anderson is retired as the Global Insecticide R&D Group Leader for FMC Corporation in Ewing, New Jersey. He is also a member of the ESA Science Policy Fellows Class of 2015. Email: tom@entoniche.com

invasive species field tour group

Forty-seven people from 20 different states, plus the District of Columbia and Canada gathered for the Entomological Society of America Plant-Insect Ecosystem Section’s Science Policy Field Tour, “Invasive Species Security: Protecting Our National Health, Food Supply, and Environment.” They hailed from 16 different universities, 10 government agencies, six nongovernmental organizations, and three industry companies. (Photo credit: Thomas E. Anderson, Ph.D.)

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