Kill on Sight: Why you’re being asked to stomp out the spotted lantern fly

The insect is notorious for sucking the life out of more than 70 different species.
Step on it, squash it, spray it, whatever you have to do to kill it.
Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 10:35 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Step on it, squash it, spray it, whatever you have to do to kill it.

That’s what entomologists and farmers are asking you to do when it comes to eradicating the hugely invasive spotted lantern fly.

The insect is notorious for sucking the life out of more than 70 different species.

It’s an issue for grape growers like Jim Shaw with Soaring Wings Vineyard and Brewing. He says he’s expecting the bug to be in Nebraska in a couple of years.

“What they’ll do is they’ll just land on this trunk and they’ll stick their proboscis through the bark and right below this bark is something we call the cambion layer and that cambion layer is green and carries the fluid up from the vine,” says Shaw.

The black and white bugs were already spotted in Iowa.

“They’re really good hitchhikers. The adults like to sort of travel, hop onto vehicles, other things and can easily hitchhike around,” says extension educator and insect diagnostician at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, Kyle Koch.

He says the spotted lantern fly made its way to the Midwest from China and while the bugs aren’t a major concern now, they need the public’s help getting rid of them so they don’t become a problem in the future.

“If you can collect that specimen if you can kill it, collect it, take an image of it, whatever you can get of it so we have some sort of record that we can trace back and be able to confirm that it’s actually a spotted lantern fly and be able to go from there.”

As far as the next steps for the vineyard, Shaw says it’s a waiting game.

“I’m not real worried, it’s just more cost and more work when this pest comes in,” says Shaw. “The Japanese beetles came in a couple of years ago, and they were and they are still fairly devastating. We’ve had to develop a program to interdict those properly and it’s worked, It’s just more money and more expense for the farmer.”

“As far as Iowa goes, it remains to be seen whether there’s an established population that will result from this. It is really is going to come down to the public reporting them and us being able to confirm and go from there,” says Koch.

The spotted lantern fly is not only a pest for farmers but homeowners as well. They like to feed on black walnut, maple, and willow trees, to name a few. The process not only damages the trees but also produces a sticky mold that can drop onto decks and cars in residential areas.