Stomp, squash, and smash have evolved from a chant to a rallying cry against an invasive insect that is spreading over the Eastern US.
A rare planthopper from Asia known as the ‘spotted lanternfly’ has gained notoriety and raised worries about its effects on ecosystems and agriculture.
First detected in Berks County, Pennsylvania, in 2014, this striking insect’s journey to the US likely began as an unintended hitchhiker alongside shipments of landscaping materials.
Since its initial discovery, the spotted lanternfly has capitalized on its talent for discreetly traveling aboard cargo and passenger vehicles, using the tree of heaven, another invasive species, as a favored food source.
As of 2023, it has infiltrated 14 US states. Notably, this insect isn’t choosy about its diet, devouring both crops and ornamental plants with equal gusto.
Its affinity for cultivated grapevines has left a trail of concern through Pennsylvania, New York, and potentially threatens vital wine regions on the West Coast.
However, tackling this invasive menace poses two primary challenges: pinpointing its current locations for targeted eradication campaigns and predicting its future spread to implement effective preventative measures.
Both tasks hinge on accurate and extensive knowledge of the bug’s historical and present distribution.
Temple University Creates Essential Tool for Spotted Lanternfly Management
Numerous state and federal agencies, alongside independent research institutions, have undertaken field surveys to track spotted lanternfly populations.
Furthermore, public awareness campaigns have spawned self-reporting tools enabling citizens to report sightings.
Despite these efforts, data regarding the bug’s presence remains fragmented and challenging to access, hampering efficient assessment and management of its expansion.
Recognizing the urgency for a consolidated, comprehensive, transparent dataset, researchers at Temple University have taken the initiative.
Under the leadership of Dr. Matthew Helmus, a research team has vigilantly monitored the invasive species since its introduction, gathering data from various sources.
In a recent publication in the journal NeoBiota, Dr. Helmus and Dr. Sebastiano De Bona, in collaboration with multiple agencies, introduced an all-encompassing, anonymized dataset.
This dataset compiles spotted lanternfly records from diverse sources, such as citizen science initiatives, control efforts, and research projects.
Spanning a detailed resolution of 1 km², the dataset offers yearly insights into the presence or absence of the insect, its establishment status, and estimated population density from over 650,000 observations.
Dr. De Bona, the lead author of the study, shared, “The lydemapr package will aid researchers, managers, and the public in their understanding, modeling, and managing of the spread of this invasive pest.”
Anticipated as a tool for streamlining spotted lanternfly forecasts, the researchers envision that the package will foster enhanced collaboration between agencies and researchers, ultimately bolstering the fight against this resilient invasive species.
Source: Phys Org