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Campus & Community - Science & Technology

What to Know About the Spotted Lanternfly at Drexel

October 7, 2019

The spotten lanternfly. Photo courtesy Jon Gelhaus.
The spotted lanternfly. Photo courtesy Jon Gelhaus.

Have you seen a spotted lanternfly on campus? Scott Dunham doesn’t want you to panic.

“They’re not going to kill all our trees on campus,” said Dunham, director of grounds for Drexel Real Estate and Facilities. Dunham and his Grounds Department team are well aware that the invasive insect native to China, India and Vietnam has found its way to Philadelphia, and they have plans in place to combat its encroachment on Drexel’s green spaces.

“They arrived in late summer at a stage when it’s a little too late to do anything,” explained Dunham. Spraying chemicals to kill the spotted lanternflies on our densely populated urban campus is not an option.

But now that we know they are here, Dunham’s team can take measures next spring to treat the soil around the trees where spotted lanternflies feed in order to exterminate them before they grow to adult stage. It’s a method they have used before to combat other types of pests, and it’s effective, said Dunham. They will start by targeting the maple trees that the spotted lanternflies are gravitating toward and will expand the treatment to other types of trees if necessary.

The spotten lanternfly at Drexel. Photo credit: Scott Dunham.
The spotten lanternfly at Drexel. Photo credit: Scott Dunham.

Spotted lanternflies don’t bite or sting, but according to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, they have the potential to harm agricultural crops and negatively impact the quality of life for people living in areas that become heavily infested. Halting their encroachment will not be easy, and the Commonwealth and its partners has been running campaigns to inform people about spotted lanternflies and encourage people to help stop their growth.

And yes, that means killing them and their egg masses on sight.

Dunham notes that it may take years to stop the growth of spotted lanternflies in our area, but he wants the University community to know that we have a plan, and we don’t expect to lose our precious campus trees to this nuisance.

For more information about the spotted lanternfly, check out this blog post from the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University: “Spotting the Spotted Lanternfly.”

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