Ron Wilson

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Spotted Lanternfly - If You Detect It, Collect It!

- Jennifer Andon Amy Stone Thomas deHaas

We are hearing some mixed messages when it comes to the Spotted Lanternfly (SLF) and want to provide some clarification from the Ohio perspective. 


The SLF has been in the news, and definitely making its presence known on social media including Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. One thing we are seeing more and more is the message of squishing, squashing, stomping, and smashing this invasive insect.


While these insect-killing messages are directed at locations where populations have already been discovered, reported, and confirmed, and SLF numbers are growing, leaving residents wondering what they can do. Many of the SLF campaigns are from states like Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York where this invasive insect is more commonly encountered than here in Ohio, and population levels are much greater than those currently being experienced in the buckeye state. 


The end-of-life messaging directed at SLF has also created some conflict among the public as described in a New York Times article on August 21, 2022, In the Lanternfly War, Some Take the Bug’s Side written by Sarah Maslin Nir.


The author describes the situation with SLF as a conflict brewing between bug lovers and bug haters.


The Bug Haters…..Spotted Lanternfly…..Squash the Spot!


The Bug Lovers……Spotted Lanternfly…..Such a beautiful insect, how could I hurt it?


So, what is an Ohioan to do?


If you are in Ohio and see a suspect SLF, the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) is asking you to take a picture and report it. The report can be emailed, called or submitted via an online form. Check out their website for specific details: 


Suspect SLF finds can also be reported using the Great Lakes Early Detection Network (GLEDN) App. The app is free and available for iPhones and androids and can be downloaded from the app stores. This app can be used to report SLF and other invasives and has the capabilities to report both positive and negative observations. 


ODA, and OSU Extension, would also like you to capture the photographed insect, in case a specimen is needed. An actual specimen will be required to confirm SLF's presence if the detection is made in a previously uninfested county.  


The Ohio State University suggests some SLF messages for Ohio like: “Flash It and Save It!” or ”Snap It and Pack It!” or “Snag It and Bag It!”, but what it really comes down to is "If You Detect It, Collect It!". 


In Ohio, when SLF is discovered, please collect the insect and save the GPS location. 


The goal for now is to identify whether the SLF is part of an infestation...


...or just a hitchhiker (which they do really well).


So, for now, Don’t Stomp the Spot in Ohio, but rather If You Detect It, Collect It


Save it in a Ziplock bag. A cotton ball saturated with 91% Isopropyl Alcohol inserted in the bag will euthanize the insect. Placing the bag in the freezer will also kill the insect in the nymph and adult stages.


Efforts to trap the insect are going on throughout the State of Ohio. Many traps have been attached to tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) (an invasive plant species)...


...which is anything but heavenly.


So hopefully, for now, bug lovers and bug haters can agree on these three things:

  • Spotted lanternfly (SLF), although beautiful insects, need to be on everyone's radar
  • If you suspect SLF, by capturing and saving the insect, we can tract its location and movement
  • Spread the Ohio SLF Message - “If You Detect It, Collect It!”


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