Squash any that you come across. until it is dead, stomp on it.
This is the recommendation given by agricultural groups all across the Northeastern United States on the spotted lanternfly, an invasive insect that has spread quickly throughout the nation, especially into populated urban areas like Philadelphia and New York City. There have been reports of sightings of the bug with the black and orange polka dots in at least 11 states.
China, India, and Vietnam are the insect’s native countries. In Pennsylvania in 2014, it made its first appearance in North America. Since then, it has quickly expanded to nearby states by hitchhiking on plants, vehicles, and pretty much anything else it can latch on to.
According to a recent research by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and North Carolina State University, they could arrive on the West Coast as early as 2027.
They are plant-hoppers and can’t fly. Instead, they fly frighteningly far apart by launching themselves up and high. They do not pose a direct threat to people or animals, but they do destroy over 70 native plants, such as apple trees, grapevines, and other food crops, by sucking on their sap and leaving behind a lot of sticky, mold-attracting faeces. A 2019 study from Pennsylvania State University estimates that they are to blame for $554 million in agricultural losses in Pennsylvania alone.
In order to inform the public about why this widespread release of vividly coloured bugs is so harmful to the environment, some state authorities have implemented quarantine limits for affected counties, while others have started research and health awareness campaigns.
According to Shannon Powers, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, “They’re an economic and quality of life concern, as well as a threat to agriculture.”
The General Public Acts:
Because of all the damage that these insects do to food crops and other natural plants, agricultural specialists are pleading with common people to help stop the spread of these pests. And the general populace is doing more. Invaders are being tracked down and killed by self-described lanternfly hunters, who are then documenting their victories on social media platforms like TikTok. Some people are even competing in smooshing as many lanternflies as they can while exchanging tips on how to do it.
Powers exclaims, “We are happy that others have joined up and are helping to control spotted lanternflies. “The risk of transmitting the insect is greatest among people. They’ve got to aid us.
However, scientists caution that some do-it-yourself killing techniques may be more harmful than beneficial.
Julie Urban, an associate research professor in the Department of Entomology at Penn State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences, notes that given the prevalence of social media, “we frequently see people taking matters into their own hands and employing home cures.” “Even seemingly harmless substances like Dawn dish soap, which is safe for people but harmful to trees and helpful insects like bees, can have negative effects. We don’t want anyone using dangerous chemicals outside.”
Herbicides that are intended for use on spotted lanternflies are recommended by Urban. Naturally, she wants the squashing to go on, particularly during the coming weeks. To ensure their presence the following year, lanternflies lay their eggs in the late summer. It is up to humans to keep trampling because this creature has no known predators outside of its natural habitat.