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All-purpose pest

Just when it looks like we’re catching a break with tree-killing predators, another comes along that’s even worse.

I last talked about pests like the Emerald Ash Borer just a few months ago. Not a lot has changed on that front, but we’re holding our own in Pennsylvania. But another pest I mentioned then, the Spotted Lanternfly, is giving the state a one-two (and three and four) punch. While Emerald Ash Borers have specific tastes – mostly ash trees – this particular bug has an appetite for just about everything.

Not only does it attack walnut, oak, ash, birch and beech trees, it enjoys willow, maple and tulip poplar. As if that wasn’t bad enough, it also finds fruit trees tasty, and the state’s apple and peach crops are taking a hit. Even worse, it seems to find grape vines to be a particular delicacy, and it looks like the grape harvest this year will also be affected.

Even though the bug showed up only five years ago, it shows signs of spreading even worse that the Ash Borer. So much so, that the public is getting involved. To that end, the Lanternfly is probably the first tree pest to have its own interactive phone app called “Squishr.”

Did I say interactive? You betcha. The whole theme of the app is to, as the name implies, squish the bugs – or even more effectively, their egg cases – take a photo, and upload it and details on the sighting date and time to the app for all to see, especially state departments of agriculture. The hope is to effectively track the pest over a period of time and hopefully learn enough about its habits to mount an effective defense.

Of course, just the act of squishing these things alone can be effective in the short term. At the very least, it helps us in affected areas feel like we’ve enlisted in the war against these invaders.

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