What’s all the hype over the Lanternfly?

Since the beginning of the fall semester, the Spotted Lanternfly has been all the talk around campus. All we’ve been told is to kill these pretty and seemingly harmless insects because they are an invasive species, endangering certain agricultural and forestry industries. But, why are the Lanternflys so dangerous to the Lehigh Valley?

 What is the Spotted Lanternfly?

 According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, the Spotted Lanternfly is an “an invasive planthopper. The Spotted Lanternfly adult is approximately 1” long and½” wide at rest.”

 What does the Lanternfly look like?

Although this planthopper is an invasive species to Pennsylvania, these bugs are quite eye catching. The forewings are grey with black spots, and are finished with black tips.Their hind wings are colored with a stark combination between a red and pink color, finished with black and grey spots. As the Lanternfly matures, the black with white spots on the hind wings begin to develop into larger red patches. The legs and head are black, and the actual body of the Lanternfly is yellow with black stripes.

How did the Lanternfly get to the Lehigh Valley?

 Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, the Lanternfly is “native to China,India, Vietnam, and introduced to Korea where it has become a major pest.”

 Invasive species can be spread in a variety of different ways. With the constant transportation of goods between countries, these goods can carry unwanted species.

“There are a lot of invasive species in general in places that have a lot of international commerce,” said Dr. Erika Iyengar, a professor in the biology department. “And by that I mean places that get goods shipped to them from other places – you don’t have to be as cosmopolitan as NYC to have this happen,” said Iyengar.

Why is this seemingly pretty insect so bad for the area?

If you have come across a Lanternfly on your normal walk to class, they seem non aggressive and are actually really pretty – for an insect that is. But, their invasion of Pennsylvania could have detrimental effects on the agricultural and logging industries.

Although this species is new to North America, the Lanternfly in Korea has “had major destructive impact on grapes, and grape-products such as wine… and also reduced yield on important fruit-bearing trees and other plants,” said the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

 What to do if you see a Lanternfly

 It’s pretty simple really. If you see a Lanternfly while walking to class, stomp on them!

“I have no problem killing them, and my kids and I stomp on them every opportunity we can. They are a prolific, non-native pest, although darn pretty,” said Iyengar.

Is Muhlenberg studying the Lanternfly?

“We aren’t doing anything I know of to study the lanternfly,” said Iyengar.

But, this is a community effort. All of the research regarding this invasive species has told us to kill the Lanternfly if we spot one. So, let’s do our best to protect our agricultural and forestry industry by working together to kill this pest.

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