One More Worry

Jennifer Zurko

Do you sometimes find yourself comparing what your kids are going through now to when you were their age? Then: cable television. Now: YouTube and other streaming TV channels. Then: getting bullied at school or hanging around with the wrong crowd. Now: getting bullied on social media, which involves more than just two kids.

Parents throughout time have thrown their hands up and said, “Great! Another thing to worry about. It never ends!” And as our society evolves, this will continue for many more generations.

The thought of, “Not another one to worry about!” popped into my head when Matthew Chappell and I ran into Stanton Gill, Extension Specialist at the Central Maryland Research & Education Center, at MANTS in January. Matthew asked Stanton what was up and he stated simply, “Spotted lanternfly.” I’m only familiar with the more common greenhouse and nursery pests, so it wasn’t a big deal that I had never heard of it. But I was surprised when Matthew didn’t know what it was, either. He took notes and made a mention in his Nursery & Landscape Insider newsletter. I conveniently forgot
about it.

But when I emailed Dr. Jill Calabro of AmericanHort to ask what she thought will be major pest issues for growers this year, the first thing she said was spotted lanternfly. It was actually the third time I had heard the name of this new pest, so I thought, “Okay, there’s something here.”

Granted, spotted lanternfly isn’t widespread … yet. And that’s the key. The first sighting was in Pennsylvania in 2014 and the state has since been under quarantine. But now entomologists have seen it in Maryland and Virginia, which means it’s spreading and only after a couple of years.

Once you read about spotted lanternfly, you may think to yourself, “Eh, it only attacks trees. I grow annuals and perennials, so I have nothing to worry about.” But think about the Emerald Ash Borer and the devastation it’s caused around the country. On my street alone, dozens of my neighbors have had to cut down their dead or dying ash trees—including the one we had in our own front yard.

Spotted lanternfly could be worse because it counts over 70 different trees as its hosts, which includes many that we see in our neighborhoods and landscapes, plus hops, grapes and fruit trees.

We don’t want to be alarmist, but we also didn’t want to brush off this new Asian stowaway as “just a nursery pest.” So we thought it was important to put it on the cover to make sure that all of us in the industry—from grower to landscaper to retailer—knows about it so that we can stay vigilant and help to contain it as much as possible. Maybe we if we did that with EAB, I would still have an ash in my yard …

And as if you didn’t already have enough to worry about, we’ve got lots of info on insects and diseases to keep you and your staff active members of the scouting brigade, including avoiding pesticide resistance, avoiding botrytis and tospoviruses on ornamentals.

We don’t mean to add stress to your already pressure-filled spring season; our goal is to keep you well-informed, so that you can try to avoid these types of worries that keep you up at night. We hope the information in these pages equips you with the right tools to fight off any insect or diseases issues that try to invade your greenhouses. GT