Canadian Food Safety Agency sounds alarm as spotted lanternfly approaches border – Business News

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is urging Canadians to be on the lookout for an invasive bug that could spell disaster for the country’s wineries and fruit growers.

The spotted lanternfly is a pest native to China that has been making inroads into the United States since 2014.

So far, the small grey-red insect with the spotted wings has not been found alive in Canada.

But in early September, hundreds of adults were found in a residential area in Buffalo, NY, just 45 km from the Canadian border.

The reports sparked alarm at the CFIA, which tweeted last week urging Canadians to “immediately” report any sightings of the pest this side of the border.

The insect feeds on sap, mainly fruit trees, and can cause serious damage to orchards and vineyards.

“We are increasingly concerned about its proximity to Canada and our viticulture industry in particular, as this is a pest that has had a significant impact on the grape and fruit industry in the United States,” said Diana Mooij, a program specialist for invasive alien species within the CFIA.

The first sighting of the pest in North America was in Pennsylvania in 2014, and since then a tracking program overseen by Cornell University has documented the pest in 14 US states.

Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and Delaware have the most sightings, along with areas in and around New York City. It has been found as far east as Rhode Island, as far east as North Carolina, and as far west as Indiana.

The Buffalo sightings were the first to occur near the Canadian border.

According to Mooij, dead adults have been found on trucks in Canada. She says females will lay their eggs on almost anything that is stored outside.

“This is a pest that unfortunately can travel on all sorts of things,” she said. “It doesn’t just ride on plants, it can travel on shipping containers and trucks and cars and camping gear.

“We are asking everyone to be a little more vigilant when searching for this pest, especially if they have been to areas of the United States where the pest is found,” she said.

According to Mooij, the insect is very distinctive, with its mottled wings, a pink hue when the wings are closed and a bright red hue when the wings are open.

The insects need large amounts of sap to survive. Signs of their presence can be trees with large amounts of sap dripping onto the bark.

The insects produce a sugary waste known as “honeydew,” which attracts pollinators like bees and wasps and can cause fungi and mold to grow on trees, which can damage them.

Pennsylvania says a 2019 analysis showed the insect could cause more than $300 million in damage to its economy annually.

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