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It’s Back…

An invasive species called the spotted lanternfly is back to do damage in parts of the U.S. Officials say there’s only one thing to do if you see one.

A beige, black, white, and red moth sits on a leaf with its wings spread out.

© Jason Ondreicka/Dreamstime.com

An invasive species called the spotted lanternfly is back in parts of the United States, putting certain crops and plants at risk. Experts say the public needs to help keep the insects under control. 

Experts believe that spotted lanternflies were first brought into the U.S. on a shipping crate from China, their native country. First seen in Pennsylvania in 2014, they have since spread to 13 other states, including Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, Virginia, and West Virginia. Humans are accidentally helping spotted lanternflies by giving them rides to new locations.

“I hate to say it, but it is human-assisted,” invasive species expert Brian Eshenaur told CBS News. “So they are traveling on our vehicles and in trains, apparently, and on the outside.”

The spotted lanternfly is harmless to humans, but it feeds on more than 70 types of plants, including grape vines and many fruit trees. This can damage crop production.

A wanted poster for the spotted lanternfly that says if you see them, squash them.

PA Department of Agriculture, © Anatoly Tushentsov—iStock/Getty Images Plus

Created by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, this graphic lets residents know what to do if they see a spotted lanternfly.

Experts say people should keep an eye out for spotted lanternflies and their eggs—and destroy (crush) them. Adult lanternflies appear in the late spring or early summer. They are about an inch long with black spots on their wings, which are gray and red. In the fall, adults lay egg masses on tree trunks, firewood, vehicles, and more. Egg masses are about an inch long and look like smears of mud.

A mass of beige eggs is stuck to a tree trunk.

© Jason Ondreicka/Dreamstime.com

Spotted lanternfly egg masses can sometimes be found on tree trunks.

Did You Know?

A large yellow and black spider sits on a web.

© David Hansche/Dreamstime.com

The Joro spider, an invasive species that’s spreading across the U.S., is as large as an adult human’s palm. Yikes!

But experts say that if you see a Joro spider, there’s nothing to fear. They don’t hurt humans, and they’re not likely to do any harm to other species, either.

Are You Gonna Eat That?

Courtesy of Jeffrey W. Doelp

Praying mantises may look delicate, but they’re actually ferocious predators that can kill everything from moths to small snakes to hummingbirds. Yes, hummingbirds.

Recently, praying mantises in the U.S. have been seen eating spotted lanternflies. That’s great news. These ruthless hunters, which already help control the native insect population, may turn out to be allies in the fight to stop a harmful invasive species.

Wrong Place, Wrong Time

James E. Zablotny/USDA APHIS; © Dukas Presse-Agentur GmbH/Alamy; Susan Jewell/U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; © Johncarnemolla/Dreamstime.com; © Natalia Volkova/Dreamstime.com

Spotted lanternflies aren’t the only harmful invasive species. Check out the slideshow to read about some other invaders. 

How do species end up invading new parts of the world? It’s usually because of human actions. You can learn more about invasive species, and why we should care about them, at Britannica School.

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