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News

Pennsylvania Teen Wins National Science Fair and Patent for Spotted Lanternfly Trap

Motivated by the invasion of the Spotted Lanternfly, Harleysville, Pennsylvania teen Rachel Bergey showed initiative by engineering an inventive solution.

Improving on existing solutions such as cutting down otherwise healthy trees, spraying potentially harmful chemicals, or using sticky tape that can trap helpful insects or even birds, Rachel engineered a more benign trap using tin foil and a net.

The trap used the Spotted Lanternfly’s natural instinct to always climb up and not down the tree trunk to capture them. After many rounds of iteration, Rachel found that her trap caught over double the lanternflies of traditional sticky tape, while capturing 94% fewer other insects.

For her work, Rachel earned multiple awards at national science fairs, including a $10,000 prize, as well as a patent for her invention. Traps have since hit the market employing a similar circle trap design, such as this trap from Lanternfly Trap Co.

Watch Rachel Bergey present her work in the video below.

Categories
Education

Spotted Lanternfly Art for Grow Up Green 2021 Butterfly Exhibit at Sister Cities Park

In the Logan Square neighborhood of Philadelphia, we spotted the Grow Up Green 2021 Butterfly exhibit at Sister Cities Park.

Among the painted Monarch and Cabbage White butterflies was a Spotted Lanternfly piece, with the warning: “Not a Butterfly! STOMP THIS INVASIVE BUG!

Spotted Lanternfly art exhibit

The trademark gold, red, black, and white wings of the art piece were signed, presumably by the artists. A placard beneath gives plenty of detail about the SLF, which we’ve transcribed below.

Spotted Lanternfly placard

SLF is a serious invasive pest with a healthy appetite for our plants and it can be a significant nuisance, affecting the quality of life and enjoyment of the outdoors. If not contained, spotted lanternfly potentially could drain Pennsylvania’s economy of at least $324 million annually, according to a study carried out by economists at Penn State. The spotted lanternfly uses its piercing-sucking mouthpart to feed on sap from over 70 different plant species. It has a strong preference for economically important plants including grapevines, maple trees, black walnut, birch, willow and other trees. The feeding damage significantly stresses the plants which can lead to decreased health and potentially death.

As SLF feeds, the insect excretes honeydew (a sugary substance) which can attract bees, wasps, and other insects. The honeydew also builds up and promotes the growth for sooty mold (fungi), which can cover the plan, forest understories, patio furniture, cars, and anything else found below SLF feeding.

Categories
Fun

Post Malone Parody Video “Kill Spotted Lanternflies For Me (Die For Me)”

The Somerset Spotters are spreading awareness about the Spotted Lanternfly as part of the Lexus Eco Challenge. Check out their inspired music video below!

The same group earlier created a Spotted Lanternfly piñata to gleefully destroy. What an amazing idea!

Categories
Fun

Die! Die! Die! Spotted Lanternfly by the Edge Hill Rounders

In September 2019, the Edge Hill Rounders, the Pennsylvania folk duo Tim Cheney and Paul Mamolou, released a single called “Die! Die! Die! Spotted Lanternfly”. Based on the title alone, we’re feeling the music already.

Check out the song below, or support the artists by buying the mp3 from Amazon Music.

Categories
Fun

Spotted Lanternflies at the Mummers Parade for New Years 2020

The Mummers Parade is a long-standing New Years Day tradition in Philadelphia, where local clubs dress up in fancy costumes and strut their stuff and have done it since 1901. We were pleased to find representation for the Spotted Lanternfly at this year’s event, with a group donning picture-perfect costumes made with red, gray, and gold fabrics and foam insulation tubes. They’re doing their part to raise awareness, wearing signs that say “Swat” and “Plant Trees”. Check out the photos from the corner of Catherine & Broad below.

Categories
Education

Popular Products for Spotted Lanternfly Treatment

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture:

Property owners can help contain and control spotted lanternfly (SLF) by implementing a management strategy using a combination of mechanical control, host reduction, and chemical control. These guidelines have been developed for use by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) Spotted Lanternfly Eradication Program. The guidelines target SLF at different stages of its lifecycle, and may lead to dramatic reduction in SLF populations where implemented.

Here we discuss these different strategies and review products that can be used for them.

Tree Banding

From October to July, mechanical controls such tree banding are recommended. Starting in April, adhesive bands can be wrapped around your trees, six inches wide, at about chest height. Push pins can be used to secure these bands. These bands are effective at trapping the first three nymph stages of the Spotted Lanternfly.

For tree banding, we recommend Catchmaster 931 Giant Fly Glue Trap.

This is 10 inch wide roll that comes with 30 feet of adhesive paper that can be wrapped around your tree trunks. The reviews indicate it is highly effective for spotted lanternfly control.

PleinSoleil:

Perfect for trapping Spotted Lanternfly. If you are in the northeast or mid atlantic, look out.. this could be you soon. These crazy pests have no predators as of yet. We have been using this tape to trap 1000s of nymphs and now adults. They are sapsuckers that destroy grapevines and trees. This fly trap does an amazing job. We are on our second roll and we have a third on standby for next year.

Chad M. Brader:

Works wonders!!! I got this primarily to wrap around my backyard maple tree which is completely infested with spotted lanternfly nymphs. So far, it has killed hundreds, if not thousands of them. However, the process of wrapping the flypaper around the trunk of the tree is one of the most difficult tasks I’ve ever tackled. This material is the stickiest stuff on Earth and will stick to EVERYTHING it touches. But, it works wonders…great for mosquitoes, too!

A second alternative is the Tanglefoot Tree Care Kit: Tree Insect Barrier & Tangle-Guard Wrap Combo.

This is a similar wide band, but the wrap is first put on the tree, and then you must apply the sticky insect barrier to the wrap yourself. It’s one extra step and takes more work, but easier to handle and less likely to make a mess, so you decide.

SavageMoron:

We got this for the horrible spotted lanternfly infestation, on our silver maple tree, that started last year. After feverishly scraping what larva we could, my mother-in-law suggested Tanglefoot. From the time we wrapped and put the “sticky stuff” on, we have not seen one lanternfly above it. I think we have won the war on at least this one tree. I just hope others will help in the battle with protecting their trees.

Although, I feel bad for the ants, spiders, and other insects that i don’t mind, that can’t cross the barrier. You can’t win without a sacrifice of some kind.

Chemical Control

Starting mid-May to August, insecticide treatments become effective since Spotted Lanterflies start to gather on trees, especially the tree of heaven. A bark spray is recommended since the Spotted Lanternfly must feed on the trees, and fewer other species are affected via this delivery. Keep applying pesticide every year until no more Spotted Lanternflies are detected in your property.

Among insecticide products, we recommend Bonide (BND939) Systemic Insect Control Spray. This comes in a 32 ounce sprayer bottle that can be attached directly to your hose for easy application. The reviews for using this to control Spotted Lanternflies are mostly positive.

mark:

Does a great job killing Spotted Lantern flies. My water pressure in my hose wasn’t strong enough for my tall maple trees. I mixed it into a 2 gallon pump sprayer 8 ounces to 2 gallons of water. The nasty critters started dropping off almost instantly.

Categories
Fun

“Big Mistakes”: A cautionary tale of Spotted Lanternflies and unintended side effects

I made a big mistake. I mean a really big one.

In the summer of 2019, I sat down at a table filled with big wigs from the Department of Agriculture and representatives from multi-million dollar corporations. Looking around, I can tell they didn’t want to be here. I can also tell that they didn’t believe in my gift. But there is something else I see in their faces…desperation.

I realized that I was different was when I was about 5 years old I had been playing in my grandmother’s yard. There was this huge amazing tree that seemed tall enough to reach heaven. I can still feel the rough bark under my fingertips and just when I was just about to start to climb, I felt something. I don’t know what it was really. An alarm of sorts. I pulled back my hand fast and just before the Black Widow spider that hadn’t noticed tried to bite me. I was so scared that I ran inside and didn’t tell anyone.

I tried to ignore what had happened even avoided my favorite tree. But I learned the tree wasn’t special. It was me. I was able to understand trees. And plants too. I could sense what they needed and give it to them. My mother thought that I had a green thumb. When I finally told her my secret she just sat at the dinner table blinking at me.

“Show me.”

I showed her and something turned on in her brain. She gave me a big smile and told me how wonderful I was.

It started with neighbors bringing their dying plants over to find out how to fix them and ended up with my mother running an agricultural consulting business where a fifteen-year-old me would tell our clients all about their plant’s woes. For a fee of course.

It was profitable and I even ended up on television news shows. Some people were skeptical about my gifts, but enough people believed that my family was able to live more than comfortably.

Back to the meeting. In front of me spread out on the conference table were stacks of glossy photos showing trees covered with these moth-like insects. The Spotted Lanternfly looked harmless but they were a menace. They were destroying millions of fruit trees back in the eastern U.S. which was costing a lot of money for the government and some very big corporations. It was bad and only looked like it would get worse. Some doomsday shit. They tried everything but nothing seemed to be able to kill them. They were desperate and willing to go the less traditional route. I smiled back at them.

“Take me to these trees.”

It was unreal. There wasn’t a tree that wasn’t covered with the Lanternfly. Disgusting goo dripped from them and we had to wear raincoats to protect ourselves. Looked like black mold growing on some of the trees. I touched a tree and the feelings were so strong that I stumbled to the ground overcome with emotion. The tree was in agony. It was being eaten alive by these creatures.

I placed my hand against the bark again pushing my thoughts forward looking for a way to help. The response was immediate.

“We will tell you how to destroy them.”

The big wigs were more than happy with the information provided by the trees. I’m pretty sure that most of them rationalized that I was some kind of genius that just liked to put on a show. Whatever they thought, they quickly took action.

Within a month new plants had been genetically altered and planted near the infected plants and the Spotted Lanternfly quickly ate them up. Within a few hours, the ground was covered in dead insects. The government was ecstatic with the results and more of the new plants were shipped to the affected parts of the U.S. with the same results. Other countries begged for help and the United States sent them the plants after they agreed to some new trading agreements of course.

It seemed that all of the Lanternfly had been eradicated and people were happy. At least for a while. Then the calls began. The new plants were growing rapidly and their roots were strangling the roots of the other trees and plants. The roots were starting to break through pipes and even concrete, so thick, deep and spread out that they couldn’t be dug up. It was estimated that if they went unchecked that the results would be devastating to the world.

I went to my grandmother’s house where a new plant had its trunk wrapped tightly around my old climbing tree’s bark choking the life out of it. I touched the new tree hoping for a solution. It seemed happy to communicate with me, grateful for my help. I pushed the images of destruction forward in my mind and I spoke out loud.

“You are destroying everything. Humans won’t be able to survive if you keep growing. Please help us.”

The tree seemed to find great humor it this and sent me memories of generations of wars between these trees and the Lanternfly with each side trying to destroy the other. Feelings of disgust pulsate as I saw visions of the insect and then overwhelming glee at the view of billions of their dead littering the ground. Then the vision of the world completely taken over by the plants.

I fell to the ground, not sure what to do. I felt betrayed. But why? The plants hadn’t lied to me. I had never asked them any questions. Never judged their intentions. And had never looked for another option. It was all my fault.

Photo credit of Tree of Heaven by NatureServe.

Categories
Fun

Spotted Lanternfly life cycle explained in pixel art

The Spotted Lanternfly has an interesting life cycle you should be aware of if you intend to fight against them. We present the life cycle to you in pixel art form.

Eggs

Spotted Lanternfly life cycle 1 - egg - pixel art

Spotted Lanternflies will have laid eggs in the fall to last through the winter. Their egg cases, which are a waxy yellowish brown, are usually located on tree trunks, stone, or any vertical surface, including manmade items like vehicles, outdoor furniture, or lumber. Their preferred place is the tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima), itself an invasive species in North America.

Early Nymph

Spotted Lanternfly life cycle 2 - early nymph - pixel art

By late April or early May, nymphs begin hatching from the egg sacs. In the early stages (1st, 2nd, and 3rd instar), the Spotted Lanternfly nymph is wingless, and black with white spots.

Late Nymph

Spotted Lanternfly life cycle 3 - late nymph - pixel art

By July and August, we begin the see the late stage Spotted Lanternfly nymph (4th instar), which has some red patches mixed in with the black and white spots. They have a red upper body and red wing pads. They are still flightless, so they must crawl and hop from plant to plant to feed.

Adult

Spotted Lanternfly life cycle 4 - adult - pixel art

About September we begin to see the familiar adult Spotted Lanternfly at their peak. They have a black head, and gray wings with black spots. They begin to mate starting late September through the onset of winter. The adults lay their eggs on vertical surfaces, each egg case containing 30 to 50 eggs, and the cycle repeats.

Categories
Education

Attack of the Spotted Lanternfly

When a species invades an ecosystem, it usually means trouble. Ecosystems are a complex web of species that feed off each other in a balanced manner. This delicate balance can very easily be disrupted by the introduction of a foreign species into the ecosystem.

This is the reason transporting living non-native species of animals or even birds into different ecosystem is extremely harmful for the balance of the food web. With no natural predators to keep the invader species in check, they tend to reproduce rapidly and damage the delicate ecosystem.

An example of such an invader is the spotted lanternfly.

What are spotted lanternflies?

These are essentially insects that are native to Asia, Australia, Africa, and South America. They are plant feeders. They use their sharp beaks to suck the juices from stems and leaves.

In their native continent of Asia, they are eaten by birds and small mammalian predators. This keeps their population in check and reduces the damage they cause. The Ailanthus, a tree that is very widely exported around the world, is the insect’s preferred host tree for egg laying.

It is possible that these insects were brought to the United States via trade of the Ailanthus tree.

Why they are bad for us

Without natural predators to control their population, these insects are spreading like wildfire. They are growing in numbers and becoming harder to contain. They attack crops and produce, causing huge losses to farmers.

When this species invaded Korea in 2004, it ended up spreading to the entire country and hitting their extensive peach tree orchards hard, causing immense damage to the industry.

These insects were first found near Philadelphia, PA in 2014. State and Federal authorities, quickly swung into action, realizing the potential harm to Pennsylvania’s fruit and timber industry. Checkpoints were set up at county borders to ensure no spotted lanternflies were hitching a ride. So far, the USDA alone has spent nearly $18 million to try to contain the threat.

The invader, however, has proven to be a huge problem. By 2018, most of south eastern Pennsylvania was infested. They had even spread to surrounding areas like Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York.

What efforts are being taken to control the infestation?

Despite the checkpoints and quarantined regions and other such precautions being taken, these insects have spread exponentially. To fight this, wildlife officials are examining a tiny parasitic wasp, Anastatus orientalis, which kills a huge number of the spotted lanternfly’s eggs and nymphs in its native country China.

Studies are being made to see if they can be introduced to the American wilderness without causing harm to native North American wildlife. Another option being studied is the removal of the Ailanthus trees that the lanternflies prefer to lay eggs on.

So what should one do on spotting one?

These insects are harmful to the environment as they are an invasive species. They also cause damage to crops and thus, affect the economy. So, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture recommends destroying their eggs by scraping them off the tree trunks on which they are laid. The department also suggests exterminating nymphs and adult lanternflies by setting sticky traps on the base of trees and using pesticides.

Ultimately, we need to take the offensive against these invaders otherwise America will suffer.

Categories
Fun

The Spotted Lanternfly is an anime supervillain

We all know by now that the Spotted Lanternfly is wreaking havoc and destruction throughout the northeastern United States, but did you ever really stop and notice how much of an anime supervillain it is?

Above we’ve found footage of the Spotted Lanternfly leveling up its powers to over 9000, training for the next round of battle in fall 2020.