The United States Department of Agriculture was in Carbon County to talk about handing out urgent notices to at-risk homeowners for Spotted Lanternflies.
The USDA is making visits to individual properties. The USDA is looking to destroy the invasive species threatening our economy. Commissioners are letting all county residents know they could come home to an urgent warning on their door step.
"They'll ask you if you want to have your property treated or inspected. They do have a form that you'll have to fill out at no cost to you." said Commissioner Wayne Nothstein
Nothstein said they met with the USDA earlier this week. He said if the USDA investigates a report in your immediate community, it's likely they'll ask for your permission to sweep your property.
Nothstein said, "They'll deliver (an urgent notice) to your door or come to your house. If there are any spotted or reported in your neighborhood they will then go a certain radius of that findings and they will knock on your door or notify you."
Spotted Lanternflies heavily rely on a plant called Tree-of-Heaven. It releases toxins only the Spotted Lanternfly can tolerate to protect it from predators. Chad Schwartz from the Lehigh Gap Nature Center said both are invasive species which come from the same region of Asia.
"So when the Spotted Lanternfly was introduced here a few years it was quite happy to find the plant that it actually depends on in its life cycle." Schwartz said.
Trees-of-Heaven look similar to a Sumac tree. Sumac trees have pointy edges on their leaves whereas Tree-of-Heaven leaves have smooth edges with a notch at the bottom. If you find one, cutting it down will actually help multiple Trees-of-Heaven grow. You must apply an herbicide.
Schwartz said, "Cutting it and then carefully painting it with herbicide. That's tricky for homeowners to do so you really have to know what you're doing. You have to be very careful with that. But you can't just cut it down unfortunately. It's not that simple. You have to treat the tree first to make sure you kill off the root system."
If you still can't tell the difference physically, you can snap a branch off the Tree-of-Heaven and smell it. They actually smell like peanut butter.