Watch CBS News

This pest could damage Maryland's wine industry. Here's why.

Spotted lanternflies a nuisance to wine industry
Spotted lanternflies a nuisance to wine industry 01:57

BALTIMORE -- Are the pesky spotted lanternflies here to stay?

These pests are causing headaches for Maryland winemakers, who say the sap-sucking insects could sour business.

The bugs are known for latching on to cars or people to move from place to place. Once again, they will be among the summer tourists visiting the wineries this summer.

"They come in and they want to suck the sap out of the vine," said Sarah O'Herron, founder and co-owner of Black Ankle Vineyards in Mount Airy. "If you get a big enough invasion of them, it can kill the plant."

The invasive species is zapping the fun away from winemakers, which could cause costly damage to decade-old vines.

"Many of them are 20 years old and they get better and better fruit the older they are. So, if you're weakening the plant, you're going to raise the possibility of your wine quality suffering," O'Herron said. "Aside from the cost of the plant itself, to plant it and care for it all those years, you can't make up for it."

The state issued a quarantine for 19 counties and Baltimore City– alerting Marylanders that these bugs are back. Getting rid of them for good is proving difficult, but the best way to remove them is mechanically.

This quarantine restricts the movement of regulated articles that might contain the spotted lanternfly in any of its life stages, including egg masses, nymphs, and adults.

"Just squashing them, stomping them, check your cars, check yourself, make sure you're not moving this bug somewhere," said Michael McCracken, agriculture inspector for the Maryland Department of Agriculture.

While the summer months could prove challenging, O'Herron says the farming industry has always battled Mother Nature and while this won't wipe out the industry, it will be a nuisance.

"We'll have a few irritating years and then I hope it'll all kind of settle back and we'll be on to the next thing," O'Herron said.

These bugs cannot hurt humans. 

Before driving, make sure to check your car so that they don't get a free ride to a place they haven't been.

Businesses, municipalities and government agencies requiring any regulated item's movement within or from the quarantine zone must have a specialized permit. 

The permit may be obtained by taking a free online training course and exam through PennState Extension, according to the MDA. 

Examples of regulated articles include landscaping, remodeling, or construction waste; packing materials like wood boxes or crates; plants and plant parts; vehicles; and other outdoor items.

All spotted lanternfly permits for Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware are transferable and valid throughout the region.

Those living within the quarantine zones are encouraged by the State's Department of Agriculture to be vigilant in containing the spread of spotted lanternflies. 

Sightings may be reported through MDA's online survey. Other informational materials are available on the program's website.

The best advice – if you see them, squish them.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.