by Justin Tabachnik
A spotted lanternfly spreading its wings. (Credit: Scientific American)
What is a spotted lanternfly?
The spotted lanternfly, also known as Lycorma Delicatula, is an invasive insect native to Southeast Asia. The red, beige, and yellow creature can feed on at least 70 species of trees, and are able to spread very quickly in the right conditions. However, without human interaction, it is very difficult for the spotted lanternfly to spread very far. While having the name of a fly, these insects are actually more related to grasshoppers, and are not able to travel very far without help. So you may ask, “how were they able to spread across the world to Biotechnology High School?” The answer relies on the question that follows.
How did the spotted lanternfly get all the way to New Jersey?
In one word: humans. Through the transfer of plants, shipping materials, and others over long distances, lanternflies can come as well. While proper inspection is meant to eliminate this threat, it can go awry. Once the insects have established themselves as a part of the ecosystem, it is difficult to eliminate them.
And when they chose New Jersey as their home, they brought havoc with them. Once established as a “part” of an ecosystem, they can pose a dramatic threat to native wildlife. Feeding on the plant sap of more than 70 species, they can pose an indirect threat that can lessen the quality of life of those affected.
What do I do if I see one?
Following the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, simply ‘Stomp it Out!” Spotted Lanternflies are a catastrophic invasive species, and killing them is necessary to protect the environment.
What are some of the perspectives of students at Biotech?
The entirety of the students surveyed agree that Lanternflies posed some sort of inconvenience to their everyday life. One student noted how they literally had to walk in zig zags in order to evade them and that they always landed in their hair. Another noted that lanternflies have flown up their shirt multiple times to their inconvenience.
Anne E. Johnson, D. M. C. and R. I. (2022, January 21). Spotted lanternfly: A colorful cause for concern. Invasive Species. Retrieved November 22, 2022, from https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/spotted-lanternfly-a-colorful-cause-for-concern
U.S. Department of the Interior. (n.d.). Spotted lanternfly 101 (U.S. National Park Service). National Parks Service. Retrieved November 22, 2022, from https://www.nps.gov/articles/spotted-lanternfly-101.htm#:~:text=Spotted%20lanternfly%20
Spotted Lanternfly. Spotted lanternfly. (2022). Retrieved November 22, 2022, from https://www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/pi/prog/pests-diseases/spotted-lanternfly/#:~:text=SLF%20feeds%20on%20the%20plant,living%20in%20heavily%20infested%20areas.