People are trying any way they can to fight off the pesky Spotted Lantern Fly, and there may be a new way. It's yet to be fully tested and researched, but a native Pennsylvania plant may be able to slow them down or even kill them.
Milkweed, which is the host plant for monarch caterpillars, is possibly poisonous to the Lantern Fly which ravages local farms.
Whenever we hear something that can deter or possibly kill a Spotted Lantern Fly like milkweed, it's something worth looking into. We're at the Emerald Cider Mill in Slatington which is most known for their apples, but they do have about an acre of grape vineyards. And the owner tells us the ratio between the Spotted Lantern Fly and this delicious produce is not in his favor.
"We had a very thin year as far as grapes go this year, and we have more Lantern Flies than we have grapes." said Carl Fritchey from the Emerald Cider Mill.
He's happy Spotted Lantern Flies don't bother his apple orchards, but it's tough watching them swarm his grape vines.
Fritchey said, "[They] attach themselves either to the canes of the grape vines or the trunk. And they tap into the vine and suck the sap out"
There's not much data out there, but milkweed sap is said to slow down or kill the Lantern Fly. Chad Schwartz from the Lehigh Gap Nature Center said it's because its poisonous to lots of other invasive species.
"Because they're from another ecosystem elsewhere in the world, they don't have the ability to fight off the toxins that are produced by the milkweed plant." Schwartz said.
You can recognize milkweed by it's long leaves. Some species have an orange top. These plants are especially important to the life of monarch butterflies. It's the only plant they eat. Schwartz said we can't jump to calling milkweed a weapon against Spotted Lantern Flies just yet.
"Scientists are just starting to collect data." Schwartz said, "So we're really won't know how milkweed will interact with them definitively for a little while yet probably."
Fritchey said he has plenty of milkweed around his property, but the problem is the shear number of Lantern Flies invading his vineyard.
"They're just everywhere and if you eliminate them, within a few days there's others that move in" he said.
If you're a gardener or at least have a green thumb and you'd like to plant some of your own milkweed, you can find them potted at certain nurseries or you can buy seeds right from the Lehigh Gap Nature Center through the end of next week. And if nothing else you can help the butterflies.