By Jacob Boldur
As students around the world began the new school year this fall, they were greeted by an unfamiliar new sight: an insect known as the spotted lanternflies. Despite their unique and interesting attributes, these strange insects have been wreaking havoc on the global economy.
As mentioned in an article written by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, spotted lanternflies are easily identifiable by their distinctive appearance and unique behavior. Though they possess the ability to fly, they prefer to hop, jump, and glide, which expose their bright red hindwings. Although they are relatively docile in behavior, their vibrantly colored wings serve to intimidate other animals.
Source by Suha Tusfia
As the school season begins, NHP students are greeted by the sight of new insects known as spotted lanternflies.
“The other day I had my first lanternflies appear in my classroom,” social studies teacher Ms. Burkhard said. “It was more exciting than a bee or seeing snow fall for the 7th graders in my room.”
Lanternflies have been making their way through several parts of the world, including the grounds of New Hyde Park Memorial High School. According to the National Park Service and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, these insects originated in China, India and Vietnam, but have now become an invasive species in many regions. This means that they are expanding to populations where they can cause harm to the environment, economy, or human health. In fact, human activity has contributed to their rapid proliferation. Lanternflies lay their eggs on vehicles, firewood, stone, and any other outdoor surface. The relative ease by which lanternflies can spread, coupled with the lack of native predators to keep their populations in check within foreign ecosystems, has created concerns regarding their ecological impact.
Though the insect’s inability to bite or sting makes them harmless to humans, it stands true by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation that spotted lanternflies have detrimental impacts on agriculture and plants. Their fundamental behavior is to blame for the general destruction they have caused to flora across the world. Lanternflies use their mouthparts to feed on the sap of more than 70 different types of plant species. This leaves the plants more vulnerable to disease and attacks from other insects. In addition, spotted lanternflies let out high quantities of honeydew, which support the growth of molds that disrupt the process of photosynthesis. For these reasons, it has been speculated that this insect may actually have the potential to disrupt the global food supply. In fact, the severity of the damage that these insects inflict on plant life has prompted many local governments to encourage residents to eliminate them on sight, as the New York Department of Environmental Conservation also encourages.
Many of NHP’s students have had first-hand experiences with the species, as their invasive nature leads the insects to be a distraction.
Source by Mary Kay Mannle
A large number of lanternflies have been seen throughout the NHP campus.
“Before a recent game, my soccer team and I spent our time, that was designated to warming up and stretching, going around and squashing the flies that we could find,” junior athlete Grace Leonard said. “It’s honestly fun in the moment, but also concerning how many we saw at NHP’s field. We must have seen at least ten bugs in five minutes.”
“I've seen the lanternflies around various areas of my school's grounds. I ignored them because they didn't bother me so I didn't bother them,” freshman Alan Aphraim said.
The proliferation of invasive species populations in general has taken a great toll on the economy. More importantly, however, the introduction of species to foreign environments threatens delicate and thriving local ecosystems. For now, it is abundantly clear that the lanternfly population must be significantly reduced before it may no longer be controllable.