MESA COUNTY — A county in Western Colorado is taking measures to prepare for an invasive species that like to chow down on fruit.
the Mesa County Government approved a petition for a ballot measure to classify the Spotted Lanternfly as a “regulated species”.
If approved by landowners, the move would allow Mesa County to begin educating folks about the Spotted Lanternfly and give local pest officials the authority to enforce containment measures if necessary.
The County’s Noxious Weed and Pest Management Coordinator says the Spotted Lanternfly poses a serious threat to the state’s fruit and ornament crops.
“Peach, Apple, Apricot, plums, grape growing. Definitely effects the wine industry. The species has a wide range of hosts. Anything… fruit bearing, ornamental is a host.” Montana Cohn told Denver7
The Spotted Lanternfly has already been infesting farms on the East Coast for years.
States like Pennsylvania have to spend millions of dollars every year since 2014 to contain the Spotted Lanternfly and educate people about it.
"At the beginning of this last season, we had spent more than 20 million dollars and much of that is federal funding, but the state is spending millions every year to combatting spotted lanternfly" Shannon Powers, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s press secretary, told Denver7.
Kristin Wolfe with the Colorado Department of Agriculture said she and other members of the department have already spoken with agriculturists in state like Pennsylvania to prepare. She also said the state is considering how the Spotted Lanternfly will most likely hitch a ride into Colorado on other vehicles entering from elsewhere.
Spotting the invasive species shouldn’t be too hard based on the pictures we’ve provided here.
But Cohn suggests leaving no stone unturned in the search to find it sooner.
“Collect sample, bring it to a local CSU Extension Agent to confirm it’s a Spotted Lanternfly” he said. “Another suggestion: become familiar with identification. Knowing the different life cycles and life stages, Especially the egg mass when it’s in the egg stage. That’s the most common way that it travels. Whether it’s attached to lumber, timber, feed, or landscaping rock. Whatever they’re attached to, scrape it off and bring it to extension. If it is, they’ll report it to everyone else.”
Wolfe, Powers, and Cohn also say the Tree of Heaven is a prime breeding ground for the Spotted Lanternfly. The tree is another kind of invasive species, they say it’s the preferred host for the Spotted Lanternfly.
Mesa County plans to have the election results for the ballot measure back by the end of next week.