Invasive species found in Fort Erie threatens Niagara wine industry

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is asking Niagara residents to be vigilant for the Spotted Lanternfly (SLF), an invasive pest with a taste for our local trees and grapevines.

Multiple sightings in Fort Erie were confirmed in September 2023. SLF has no issue surviving in southern Ontario’s climate and could wreak havoc on the wine and tree fruit industries.

Originating in Asia, the invasive species has migrated to the United States and continues to travel north to the Canadian Border. Numerous sightings have now occurred in Ontario and Quebec.

If you find a Lanternfly the CFIA asks that citizens “spot it, snap it, catch it and report it,” meaning take a clear picture or video, catch it (the insect does not bite or sting), use a zip lock bag with rubbing alcohol or sanitizer for egg masses or a sealed container for nymphs or adults, then report it on the CFIA website.

Learning to recognize SLF is key. In the spring and summer months, keep an eye out for nymphs and adults. They are easiest to locate at dawn and dusk when they are migrating up and down trees.

Credit: Canada Food Inspection Agency | Government of Canada

Adults are about 25 millimeters long and half as wide, with light brown or gray front wings speckled with black. Their most striking feature is their red hind wings with black spots and white bands.

In the fall and winter, be on the lookout for SLF’s egg masses which are tan-coloured and covered in a white waxy coating that turns grey and cracks over time.

Their feeding habits leave a sticky mess called honeydew, which promotes the growth of sooty mold, a telltale sign that SLFs have infested an area. The dew also attracts bees and causes streaks in trees that make them look like they are leaking.

Before leaving an infested area, thoroughly check your car and belongings for hidden SLF hitchhikers.

Also, do not bring firewood from afar when camping. Buying firewood near where you’ll burn it helps prevent the spread of these unwanted pests.

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