Spotted lanternfly nymphs are hatching and swarming all over the East Coast (ew), and states are doing everything they can to stop the spread of this devastating bug. Here are five things you need to know about the spotted lanternfly and the steps your fleet needs to take to help stop its spread.
1. Training and permits are required to operate in quarantine areas.
Quarantines are currently in effect for numerous counties in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Virginia. New York has also enacted a quarantine restricting the movement of certain goods into the state from affected areas. If you have trucking operations or routes in these areas, spotted lanternfly permits and training are required for drivers and warehouse workers. Learn more about the training and permitting process here.
But what if your drivers are just passing through? If your vehicles pass through the area with no stops other than normal traffic, then your business probably won’t need the permit. But if you’re stopping, loading, or unloading, you almost certainly will.
Even if you're only stopping for fuel or rest, you need the training to spot them — the bugs spread mainly by hitchhiking on vehicles, and you do NOT want to be the company caught spreading the infestation.
2. Inspections can happen outside quarantine areas, too.
Several states, including New York, Maryland and Connecticut, have areas where the invasive insect has been found, and roadside inspectors throughout the region are being trained to look for the insect. If bugs are found, vehicles and trailers could be put out of service, denied access, or substantially delayed while the vehicle and trailer are thoroughly inspected and decontaminated.
3. Violation fines can be steep.
The fines for operating without a permit or transporting the spotted lanternfly and/or its eggs, whether knowingly or unknowingly, can be steep, ranging from $300 to $20,000, and may include civil penalties.
To keep the flow of goods running and your fleet from facing expensive fines and delays, agriculture officials recommend all drivers and warehouse workers who are moving goods on the east coast take the training to know what to look for.
4. It's going to get worse.
The spotted lanternfly lifecycle begins when the bugs lay eggs in late fall through early spring. Those eggs started hatching around May 1, and the East Coast is currently beset with swarms of nymphs.
The party really starts in July and August, when those nymphs mature into adults that can fly, hop, hitchhike and eat pretty much everything in sight. Worse, the bugs do most of their hitchhiking during the hottest time of year — right when your drivers want to park under a shady tree. They drop off the tree onto your vehicle, and you carry them into an adjoining area.
5. ITI can make it much easier to meet training and permitting requirements.
ITI provides an online Spotted Lanternfly training course for fleets’ frontline workers, making it simple for managers to issue them permits to operate in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. This will also arm your drivers with the knowledge they need to stop the spread of this potentially disastrous pest.
If you're a manager or owner-operator, you still must take the free, two-hour Penn State Course first.
Then you can either choose the ITI course, or teach in person all your existing employees (as well as all new employees). Once completed, you've fulfilled that obligation to teach them and you can issue the permit.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons