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Penn State Needs YOU To Stop The Spotted Lanternfly

The spotted lanternfly is here, and it’s coming to destroy us all, probably.

Despite looking like a sophisticated ladybug, this invasive planthopper species has posed a serious threat to the northeastern United States ever since it was discovered in Pennsylvania in 2014.

On top of causing serious damage to trees, these bugs excrete a sugary substance called honeydew, which may be the only thing worse than the melon itself. Honeydew can coat trees, decks, and playground equipment, encouraging the growth of black sooty mold. Although the mold is harmless to humans, it can be devastating to plant life.

As such, the spotted lanternfly could potentially harm Pennsylvania’s natural ecosystems and agrarian economy including the grape, tree-fruit, hardwood, and nursery industries.

Thus far, the species has been contained in a 14-county quarantine zone in southeastern Pennsylvania, but experts like Penn State’s spotted lanternfly extension associate, Heather Leach, fear that intrastate travelers may pick up some unwanted hitchhikers on their way to the tailgate lots.

“With the volume of visitors heading to campus now, we are concerned that they may unknowingly spread the insect during their travels,” Leach said in a press release. “And keeping this pest from reaching beyond the current 14-county quarantine zone is critical while we work toward control solutions.”

Penn State asks that travelers, especially those coming from the southeast corner of the state, take the following precautions before traveling:

  • Walk around your vehicle and check closely for any spotted lanternfly adults and/or nymphs; particularly check the windshield wiper area, bumpers, and wheel wells. In fall and winter, also look for egg masses, which have the appearance of mud splatters.
  • Check any piece of equipment or item that you will be transporting that has been outdoors in the quarantine area — such as grills, tents, tables or yard games.
  • Do not park your RV or other vehicles under trees. Keep your windows up at all times.
  • Check yourself before getting into any vehicle to make sure there are no spotted lanternfly nymphs or adults on you.

It is imperative to be extra thorough with this pre-travel checklist because Penn State football season overlaps with the egg-laying season for the spotted lanternfly, which typically lays egg masses of 30-50 eggs each.

At the very least, get yourself a fly swatter and keep that thang on you like Desmond Howard on game day.

desmond howard fly swatter GIF by College GameDay

Oh, and be afraid. Be very afraid.


For more information about how to identify and control spotted lanternflies, how to report an infestation, and how to comply with quarantine regulations, visit the Penn State Extension website.

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About the Author

Anthony Fiset

Anthony is a senior *gasp* majoring in Economics and a lifetime Costco Executive Member. If you are an employer, please hire him. Otherwise, direct all complaints to [email protected]

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