The invasive pest endangering wine production in the United States

The spotted lanternfly just burst onto the scene in 2014, coming from Asia to the United States (via CNBC). Since then, it has spread to 14 states and, unfortunately for wine lovers, it tastes like vines, sucking up nutrients and leaving rows of dead plants in its wake. According to Wired, some vineyards in the first state affected by the lantern, Pennsylvania, lost up to 90% of their harvest. Although it greatly prefers grapes, the lantern consumes 70 species of native plants, including fruit trees like apple and cherry, making it extremely difficult to track and contain.

So far, the lantern fly has only spread to the eastern and midwestern United States, but it has grown rapidly and is making California winemakers nervous. Researchers at North Carolina State University modeled the bug’s expansion and estimated it could reach the nation’s top wine state as early as 2027, with California and Washington’s climate considered good for the lantern. Luckily, there are steps you can take to fight lantern weed if you live in an affected area. Taste of Home notes that you can kill lanterns with a spray bottle of white vinegar, which won’t harm most plants. If you find egg collections, you can scrape them into a plastic bag with rubbing alcohol. Not the most fun activities, but for the future of America’s wine industry, it’s a battle worth fighting.

Shirley M. Pinder