August 25, 2022 – If you see one, crush it. Trample it until it dies.
This is the advice being given by agricultural organizations across the northeastern United States when it comes to the spotted lantern, an invasive species that has spread rapidly across the country, including dense urban centers like Philadelphia and New York City. Black and orange spotted pest sightings have been recorded in at least 11 states.
The homeland of the insect is China, India and Vietnam. It made its North American debut in Pennsylvania in 2014. Since then, it has quickly spread to neighboring states by hiking plants, cars, and anything else it can cling to. They may reach the West Coast as soon as 2027, he warns recently study from North Carolina State University and the US Department of Agriculture.
Because they are plant hoppers, they do not fly. Instead, they shoot themselves and shoot themselves high over long, alarming distances. While it does not pose an immediate threat to people or pets, it causes harm to more than 70 native plants including An apple trees, grapes and other food crops by sucking up their juice and leaving a lot of stickiness, musty-Attract poop. In Pennsylvania alone, they are responsible for an estimated $554 million in agricultural damage, according to 2019 Research from Penn State University.
Some state departments imposed Quarantine restrictions for affected counties, while others have begun conducting research and health awareness campaigns to educate the public about why this mass release of brightly colored insects is so bad for the environment.
“It’s an economic and quality of life issue, as well as a threat to agriculture,” says Shannon Powers, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
The public takes action
All the havoc these insects cause to food crops and other native plants explains why agricultural experts are asking ordinary citizens to help stop their spread. The audience is advancing. Self-proclaimed lantern hunters track and kill invaders and share their conquests on social media sites like TikTok. Some even organize lanternfly staining contests and share information on how best to kill as many of them as possible.
“We are thrilled that people have joined on board and are working to control spotted lanternflies,” Powers says. “People pose the greatest danger to spreading the bug. We need their help.”
But experts warn that some self-killing methods can do more harm than good.
“With all of social media, we often see people taking things into their own hands and using home remedies,” says Julie Urban, associate research professor in the Department of Entomology in the Pennsylvania State University College of Agricultural Sciences. “Something that may seem harmless, like Dawn dish soap, which is benign to humans, can harm trees and beneficial insects like bees. We don’t want people to put unsafe chemicals in there.”
Urban recommends using an herbicide that is labeled for use on the spotted lantern fly. And, of course, she encourages continuing to practice squash, especially for the next few weeks. Lanternflies use late summer to lay their eggs to make sure they’ll be back in action next year. And since this creature has no known predators outside of its native habitat, experts say it’s up to humans to continue trampling.