Penn State University was awarded a $7.3 million grant to fund an interdisciplinary, multi-institutional research team to develop new strategies in order to fight the spotted lanternfly epidemic.
The grant is being awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Growers and landowners who are currently collaborating with researchers are matching over $5 million in investments to support the research.
The spotted lanternfly is native to Asia and is currently invading 14 Pennsylvania counties and surrounding states such as New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, and Maryland. The spotted lanternfly fulfills it’s hunger by eating sap, which causes the plants to become weaker and results in a left-over honeydew that supports the growth of mold and damages the plants even more. The mold attracts other insects and creates an environment that’s harmful and of no help to the plant’s survival.
The spotted lanternfly terrorizes Pennsylvania’s grape, tree fruit, hardwood, and nursery industries. These 4 industries combined add about $18 billion to the state of Pennsylvania’s economy.
The grant will fund a four-year initiative that will support these goals:
– To measure the impact on specialty crops that are at-risk and develop a management technique to reduce damage
– To conduct research on the biology, ecology and behavior of the lanternfly and create sustainable, long-term, control tactics.
– To send management solutions to stakeholders of specialty crops. To send management solutions to land-grant universities, Northeastern IPM Center, and USDA agencies.
The grants will also support graduate and undergraduate students and early-career postdoctoral scientists, to train the next generation of researchers as well as leaders who will create solutions for invasive species of the future.
There will be a total of 37 collaborating researchers from Penn State, the USDA-Agricultural Research Service, the USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and more. To learn more, please visit Penn State Extension. To find grants for research, please visit GrantWatch.