The Spotted Lanternfly Invasion

Roberto Vivas, Staff Writer

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In 2015, a shipment of stone from Asia was brought to Berks County, Pa. Unbeknownst to the shipment’s management, Spotted Lanternfly, or lycorma delicatula, eggs were attached to the stone. Once the lanternflies hatched, they overran southeastern Pennsylvania. This invasive species has caused more damage and proliferated faster than any other invasive insect in the mid-Atlantic region. In the wake of their expansion, hop plants, fruit trees, and hardwoods have been severely harmed and left gardens, decks and patio furniture in more than a dozen Pennsylvania counties covered in excrement. And it seems that the Spotted Lanternfly is not done spreading, as there have been sightings in Delaware, New York, and Virginia.

With no natural predators to regulate their population, efforts are being made to cull the Spotted Lanternfly. These measures include studying their genetic markers to locate their place of origin in China to find their natural predators. As well as using the tree of heaven, or ailanthus altissima, to lay a trap for those lanternflies seeking a place to reproduce. Officials have also notified Pennsylvania’s citizens to kill any Spotted Lanternfly egg masses they find or capture a specimen to give to Pennsylvania’s Department of Agriculture’s Entomology lab. Maryland’s Department of Agriculture will be in charge of the state’s response to this species that is expected to arrive in April. Thankfully, experts say there’s a chance they’ll find a way to eliminate the spotted lanternfly, but until then, their best hope is to try to slow its spread.

This is a description of its appearance for people to keep an eye out:

During its first few weeks, it resembles a shiny black jewel covered with white spots. The spots are replaced by a brilliant red by midsummer. When the lanternfly reaches adulthood, it’s about an inch long and half an inch wide, and its grayish-brown wings — mottled with black spots — frame a bumblebee-yellow body.

Sources:

  1. “PA.Gov.” Spotted Lanternfly, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, www.agriculture.pa.gov/Plants_Land_Water/PlantIndustry/Entomology/spotted_lanternfly/Pages/default.aspx.
  2. Pitts, Jonathan M. “Maryland Braces for Invasion of Lanternflies, Races to Slow Their Spread.” Baltimoresun.com, The Baltimore Sun, 21 Feb. 2018, www.baltimoresun.com/news/science/bs-hs-lanternfly-invasion-20180208-story.html.
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Roberto Vivas, Writer

Roberto Vivas is a junior at Milford Mill Academy in Baltimore, Maryland. He was born in Spain and his parents moved to the U.S due to his father being...

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