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The Spotted Lanternfly: Why You Need to “Stomp it Out”

In September of 2014, the spotted lanternfly (SLF) was discovered in Berks County, Pennsylvania. It has since then spread to other counties and states such as New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, New York, and Connecticut. It is approximately one inch long and looks relatively similar to a moth. Its top wings are a beige color with black spots, and its bottom wings are half red with black spots and half black with white splotches. The spotted lanternfly has a piercing-sucking mouthpart that it uses to feed on the sap from various trees, vines, and shrubs. According to, “As SLF feeds, the insect excretes honeydew (a sugary substance) which can attract bees, wasps, and other insects. The honeydew also builds up and promotes the growth of sooty mold (fungi), which can cover the plant, forest understories, patio furniture, cars, and anything else found below SLF feeding.” The spotted lanternfly can overall reduce the quality of outdoor life and kill economically important plants.


The spotted lanternfly is an invasive species that feeds on sap from over 70 different plant species. It is a planthopper native to China, India, and Vietnam and was later discovered in South Korea, Japan, and eventually America. In Nutley specifically, the spotted lanternfly can be found anywhere from backyards to public parks.


It is extremely hard to completely get rid of the spotted lanternfly due to its quick reproduction system. Over the years the lanternfly has spread to a dramatic amount of counties. As stated by, in 2016 it was estimated to be in just six counties and by 2021 it is now in over eighty. The spotted lanternfly was found to be in 10 states but experts believe that it is now much more widespread than that. At Lafayette College, a study team concluded that 35% of all lanternflies would have to be eliminated for the spotted lanternfly population to decline next year. The female lanternflies lay about 100 eggs from September through November. The eggs will then hatch in May and will grow into adults in the summertime.


Phil Scaperotta was interviewed on November 1, 2021, about his sightings of the spotted lanternfly. He first saw the spotted lanternfly on his doorstep sometime in September and continues to see them all over his yard. He reported that he saw a few of the lanternflies in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and stomped it out in the grass. Mr. Scaperotta expressed, “I stepped on it immediately. I read that if you see one the New Jersey Agricultural department said to kill them because they’re so invasive.” He described that he isn’t fond of the lanternflies because he’s constantly having to exterminate them. He doesn’t want the lanternflies to ruin his grapevines and other plants that he’s been tending to for years. Phil stated that they’re a hassle to kill because of their cricket-like way of jumping as well as their ability to fly away. 


 A public campaign was formed to “Beat the Bug!" and "Stomp It Out!" in an attempt to bring awareness to the public about the spotted lanternfly. Many experts suggest that the key to getting rid of the bug is squishing it as soon as it’s seen. However, 11th-grader, Debolina Sen believes a specific fungus can be used to kill the lanternfly. Sen was interviewed by the NBC New York journalist, Linda Gaudino: “In my project, we're basically infecting some of them with a certain fungi and seeing if they will interact with one another,” said Debolina, “We'll see if they transmit the fungi through breeding with other lanternflies. If so, even a small group of lanternflies will affect everyone, and the group will perish.” The fungus Sen plans to use is only deadly to the lanternflies and not to other surrounding plants that the lanternfly might come in contact with, making Sen’s solution the most promising one yet.