As warmer weather approaches in the Northeast, so too does the return of the dreaded spotted lanternflies. The planthopper insects are an invasive species native to East Asia that pose a serious threat to the health of American ecosystems. Sporting impressive spotted wings that vary in colors, they are most commonly found in the evenings on the trunks of numerous host plants. The time has come for the brave soldiers of our school community to take up arms against these invaders.
The species first reached America in 2012 through egg masses on a shipment of paving stones from China. Since the first sighting in Pennsylvania, spotted lanternflies have spread rapidly to fourteen states in the Northeast, Massachusetts included. The invasion shows no signs of stopping.
As is characteristic of an invasive species, the spotted lanternflies represent an ecological and economic threat to the United States. The insects feed off of the sap of more than 100 species of plants and trees, leaving behind harmful wounds and a sticky honeydew that inspires the growth of sooty mold. Continued assault of those species would be a devastating blow to the environment and consequently America’s logging, grape, and orchard industries.
Without significant predators to regulate the population, scientists advise that people should kill the spotted lanternflies—at any stage of life—to ward off the impending ramifications. As increasingly hot temperatures prompt the hatchings of their eggs, it is important to keep this instruction in mind. Keep an eye out for the species’ unique polka-dot wings as summer approaches and prepare a weapon of choice for the inevitable murder to follow.
For CA students and faculty alike, a community-wide effort to brutally slaughter the spotted lanternflies could serve as another opportunity to move towards sustainability in our everyday lives. As many environmental co-head candidates stated during elections, supporting the climate should not necessarily inconvenience us. Such advice applies here, too: the possibilities for how we might make murdering spotted lanternflies a sport are endless. Through tallying up kills as exoskeletons are crushed under the bloodied soles of shoes, this coming summer, the CA community can pledge its support to the environment in a unique way.