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Elementary schoolers get firsthand experience with Spotted Lanternfly

From Thomas deHaas

Students from Woodlands Elementary learned about Spotted Lanternfly, an invasive treehopper from China, over a two-day period.


The first day was spent looking at invasive species and how they get here. The most important concept from the first day in the words of a student, “They Don’t Bite!” The second day was coloring and created a 3-dimensional model of Spotted Lanternfly.


These kits were provided by the Ohio Department of Agriculture as part of a grant. The students colored the body parts using color and markings found in nature of Spotted Lanternfly.


Next, they broke the puzzle pieces out of the mold, and then, piece by piece, assembled and glued the model. First the head. Next, the body and the legs. Then, they added the upper and lower sets of wings.


After the puzzles dried, each student was able to take their kit home. It was a great STEAM project (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math). Both Mrs. Harbal and Mrs. Young, the teachers, were great team-teaching partners.


So why do the project? Spotted Lanternfly has been seen in Huron, Sandusky, and Port Clinton.


So, what should you do if “YOU” see it? Report it to the Ohio Department of Agriculture.


But first things first. What is Spotted Lanternfly? How did it get here? Why is it a problem?


Spotted Lanternfly is an invasive insect that is native to Native to China, India, and Indochina (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand.


It can be transported by rail or highway as a hitchhiker!


Spotted Lanternfly, also known as SLF, is a plant hopper. It is not a fly. It sucks sap from trees, shrubs, and vines. It is actually a phloem feeder and can consume large amounts of sap.


Some of the sap is not totally digested and leaves the insect as honeydew, a sticky sweet substance that falls below where the insect is feeding and can form on leaves, cars, or anything that is below the feeding area. This sticky substance can attract and and bees or wasps that will feed on the honeydew.


It can also lead to the formation of sooty mold which will form on leaves and other surfaces. Its favored host plant is Tree of Heaven, an invasive tree from the same part of the world. It does not bite or hurt people and is really a very pretty insect.


Spotted Lanternfly was originally detected near Philadelphia in Berks County, Pennsylvania in 2014. Since that time, it has been transported to other parts of North America, mostly by modes of transported, specifically train cars, mobile home campers, cars and trucks. It is a ‘hitchhiker’ and can find its way into almost any vehicle. Once inside the vehicle, it can go wherever that vehicle is headed. For trains and trucks that can be hundreds of miles. Once the vehicle stops, the spotted lanternfly can ‘hop’ off and typically search for tree of heaven, which coincidentally grows along railroad tracks.


Once it begins to feed and eventually, the females lay eggs. The following spring, those eggs hatch and a new infestation begins.


The main problem is Spotted Lanternfly not only feeds on Tree of Heaven but 70 other trees, shrubs, and vines. The big fear is its second favorite hosts are grape vines and fruit trees. When SLF feeds, it can reduce the cold hardiness of the plant which can cause death to that plant.


So, what should you do? Keep on the lookout for Spotted Lanternfly. Right now, the insect is only present as egg masses.


Adults die when the temperature reaches the low 20 degrees Fahrenheit.


If you see egg masses, report them to The Ohio Department of Agriculture. Try to snap a picture and note the exact location. Report can be made to:


There have been local, confirmed reports in Huron, Port Clinton and Sandusky. So keep on the lookout!


This summer, it is likely more local residents will meet a Spotted Lanternfly. But remember, “They Don’t Bite!”

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