Spotted Lanternflies Land on Campus – Again

The Spotted Lanternfly, an invasive species from China, is taking over trees around Temple University for the second year in a row. 

Temple Update spoke to ecology professor and researcher Dr. Matthew Helmus to find out why the species is so abundant on campus, especially under Morgan Hall and The View at Montgomery. 

He says it has to do with the height of tall buildings and the fact that the fly typically feeds on trees of similar size.

“It seems like possibly they’ve evolved to climb to tops of trees, catch the wind, and disperse looking for what they want to eat. And so our manmade environment has made giant structures for them to climb up and disperse on. We don’t know how much that facilitates the spread rate – but certainly, that’s the hypothesis that a lot of scientists have as to why we’re seeing them gather at the bottom of buildings, telephone poles, electric poles, etc” Helmus said.

He added that the fly is not harmful to humans. However, it can be quite damaging to the environment due to the fact that it feeds on plants, trees, and crops.

Dr. Helmus says that it’s crucial to stomp the flies out and kill them anytime you see them to prevent them from spreading.

He also mentioned to look out for their eggs, which you can usually find on maple trees. They have a greyish color to them in the beginning stages, and then they typically become shiny once they’ve cracked.

If you are killing them, Professor Helmus also mentioned – don’t be afraid to encourage your friends to do the same.

“You should be terrified about their impact on ecosystems. So if you squish them, great. If you kill them, great. But also, tell your friends, tweet about it.”

Temple students are already on top of this trend.

Someone on campus created an anonymous Instagram account specifically dedicated to killing the bug on campus.

The account, “@templeu_lanternfly_squishers”, has nearly 2,000 followers. The creator says he made the page to provide students with a platform to have fun, make small amounts of money for their submissions, and join a new community as well.

“Everybody is dealing with another infestation like corona like this right? If you can’t crush the big bug, might as well crush the little one right? We can see it happen,” the anonymous creator said. 

He said he hopes the page will continue to grow with submissions and followers over the coming months.

You can learn more about the Spotted Lanternfly and its effects here.

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