Canadian Food Inspection Agency issues alert as spotted lanternfly pest approaching borders


The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is urging Canadians to be aware of invasive pests that can wreak havoc on the country’s wineries and fruit growers.

The spotted lanternfly is a pest native to China that has been invading the United States since 2014.

So far, no small gray-and-red insects with spotted wings have been found alive in Canada.

But in early September, hundreds of adults were found in a residential neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, just 45 kilometers from the Canadian border.

The report alarmed the CFIA, which in a tweet last week called on Canadians to report sightings of pests “immediately” on this side of the border.

This insect feeds mainly on the sap of fruit trees and can seriously harm orchards and vineyards.

“This is a pest that has had a significant impact on the U.S. grape and fruit industry, making us increasingly concerned about its proximity to Canada, especially the viticulture industry,” said Diana Mooy. Specialist in Invasive Alien Species Program within CFIA.

The pest was first sighted in North America in Pennsylvania in 2014, and since then a tracking program monitored by Cornell University has recorded pests in 14 US states.

Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and Delaware had the most sightings, as did New York City and the surrounding areas. It is found as far east as Rhode Island, south as North Carolina, and as far west as Indiana.

The buffalo sighting first occurred near the Canadian border.

Mooij says a dead adult was found in a truck in Canada. She says females will lay eggs on almost anything that is kept outdoors.

“Unfortunately, this is a pest that can travel on all sorts of things,” she said. I can do it.

“We ask everyone to exercise increased vigilance when looking for this pest, especially if you’ve been to areas of the United States where the pest has been found,” she said.

According to Mooij, the insect is very distinctive, with speckled wings that take on a pinkish hue when closed and bright red when open.

Insects require large amounts of tree sap to survive. Signs of their presence may include trees exuding copious amounts of sap in their bark.

Insects produce a sugary waste product known as “nectar” that attracts pollinators such as bees and wasps, and can cause fungi and mold to grow on and damage trees.

According to the state of Pennsylvania, a 2019 analysis showed that insects could cost its economy more than US$300 million annually.

Mia Rabson

canadian press