SCHUYLKILL COUNTY -- The USDA has awarded a $17.5 million dollar grant to Pennsylvania to fight the spread of the spotted lanternfly.
About three months ago, the spotted lanternfly was first spotted in Schuylkill County. The spotted lanternfly is an invasive species that is known to suck the life out of grapes, trees, and other plants.
"It's a sucking piercing insect," master gardener Tom Reed said. "If it's a soft-skinned fruit like an apple, one piercing of an apple takes that apple away from being a fresh market apple."
Last week, the USDA awarded a grant for $17.5 million to the state of Pennsylvania to help fight the spread of the bug. A large part of that money will go to stopping the spread of the insect, while the other portion will go to educating the public about the danger of the bug. Schuylkill County's master gardener coordinator, Susan Hyland, said education is key.
"We are moving it and we need to learn how to avoid moving it so we can get a handle on it and stop it before it gets too far and destroys our economy here," Hyland said.
If you find a spotted lanternfly or its eggs on your property, Hyland said you should kill them or scrape the eggs and get rid of them.
Master gardener Tom Reed grows his own vegetables and has taken it upon himself to learn as much as he can about the fly.
"Just hoping something is going to go away is not the answer," Reed said.
The Penn State extension office will be hosting a seminar on the spotted lanternfly at Schuylkill County's Ag Day on March 6 from 9:30 -10:30 a.m. It will be held on Penn State Schuylkill's Campus and is free to the public.