Pennsylvania Battles Spotted Lanternfly Infestation with Quarantines and Student-Led ‘Squish Squads’

PA Gov. Tom Wolf squishes spotted lanternfly
Image via Creative Commons.

Despite quarantines and “squish squads,” the spotted lanternfly continues to spread across the Mid-Atlantic and beyond, write Kevin Ambrose and Kasha Patel for The Washington Post.

This invasive pest that can devastate vineyards and ruin fruit crops was accidentally imported into Berks County seven years ago, presumably in a shipping container that arrived from Asia. Since then, it has spread first through eastern Pennsylvania and from there to New York, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and New Jersey.

The quarantines are in place to stop and slow its spread into new areas. Residents in quarantined counties, including Philadelphia’s collar counties, are urged to inspect their vehicles and any goods they are transporting to ensure the insects and their eggs are not along for a ride.

“If females lay eggs on a substrate that eventually moves (e.g., automobiles or goods), then they quickly spread that way,” said Josephine Antwi, a professor of biology at the University of Mary Washington.

Residents who notice the insect or their eggs are encouraged to squash them. Following this advice, a group of Pennsylvania students recently formed “squish squads” to stomp out the pest.

Read more about spotted lanternflies in The Washington Post.

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