Podcast: Wasps from China could help combat spotted lanternflies threatening US vineyards

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Image: Dan Charles/NPR

The spotted lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula, first showed up in the United States five years ago, right here in Berks County, Pa. Nobody knows exactly how it got here. Most likely, some eggs hitched a ride across the Pacific on a shipping container

[T]hey were everywhere …. An army of gray bugs, each one about an inch long, black spots on their wings, was climbing the trees’ trunks.

Now there are hordes of them spreading across the state and beyond. Chances are, they’ll eventually reach most of the country. “It’s an insect that lays its eggs on anything, including things that get transported,” [Heather Leach, an insect expert from Penn State University, says]. “It hops on vehicles and can hold on” as you drive.”

Related article:  Will China tell the world about its third controversial CRISPR baby?

The people who are getting hit first, and hardest, are vineyard owners. Leach takes me to see one of them: John Landis, co-owner of Vynecrest Vineyards and Winery, west of Allentown.

“We’ve never had a situation like this in 40 years,” he says. “If it starts to decimate your vineyard, it could cause people to go out of the winery business. It definitely kills vines.”

Original podcast: Vineyards Facing An Insect Invasion May Turn To Aliens For Help

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