Researchers Asking for Public’s Help in Locating, Controlling Spotted Lanternflies

Bailey Dickerson
Image via the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Researchers from the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel and the engineering department at the university are asking for the public’s help in creating a visual database of spotted lanternfly egg masses that can be found clinging to trees and vehicles, among other surfaces, writes Frank Kummer for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Pictures sent in by the public will help train computers to use artificial intelligence, so drones can be used to identify masses at rail yards. This will improve the efforts to control the spread of the invasive pest that hitches rides on trains.

The computers can go through thousands of pictures and learn to recognize different shapes and colors of the masses. So the more pictures they have to work with, the more accurate algorithms will be.

“To get the computers to really understand the egg masses and recognize them, we’re looking for help from citizens to send us pictures from egg masses before they are destroyed,” said Karen Verderame, an entomologist at the Academy.

The team is especially looking for pictures of eggs on vehicles and other metal objects that resemble railcars or shipping containers.

Read more about spotted lanternfly in The Philadelphia Inquirer by clicking here.