Spotted Lanternflies Are Appearing on the U.S. East Coast — Should You Kill Them?

Callie (Carlos) Cadorniga - Author

Aug. 23 2022, Published 5:32 p.m. ET

Fear of insects is not uncommon. Many can relate to the idea of vacating a room if you see a spider or jumping out of our skin if a house centipede scurries across the floor. Even so, people are also guilty of not wanting to outright kill them. If one is brave enough to even approach an insect or other creepy crawler, they usually just try to put it on some paper to let it out or leave a window ajar in the hopes that it'll leave on its own. But is one species worth killing on sight?

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State and city officials are warning citizens and residents about sightings of the spotted lanternfly. The prevailing suggestion is that if you see one, you should kill it immediately. Putting aside the fact that people typically don't want to have to deal with bugs at all, should you actually kill these spotted lanternflies if you see one? Here's what you should know about the inherent danger that the species presents to your neighborhood.

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Should you kill a spotted lanternfly? Here's what you should know.

The spotted lanternfly is traditionally pretty easy to spot. The species is known for its spotted wings with notable red accents. The insect is approximately 1 inch and can lay up to 100 eggs during the fall season.

But those red highlights on its wings might as well be an enormous red flag because several state officials are urging people to kill this particular fly on sight. This pest is reportedly a major threat to agricultural crops like blueberries, apples, and grapes.

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Spotted lanternflies have been spotted in New York, Indiana, and Pennsylvania, and officials from each state strongly advise that the pest be destroyed on sight. Some states urge people to even preserve the remains and send them to your local department of agriculture so that they can be dealt with en masse by wildlife professionals.

The spotted lanternfly does not attack other living beings, but the species reportedly has no known natural predators. They're also quite jumpy when threatened.

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New York city councilman Joe Borelli has pushed this agenda in order to protect local agriculture.

"Reducing this invasive species is not an overnight fix," Joe stated in early August 2022, according to Spectrum News. "But something should be done in a responsible and calculated way to ensure success."

Despite these urgent warnings from state officials to kill any and all spotted lanternflies, some skeptics are actively trying to protect the species. According to a New York Times report, some folks are trying to catch them and hide them from potential killers. Some cite their vegan peacekeeping lifestyle as a reason why they spare the creatures, while others doubt the severity of their threat to local agriculture.

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Meanwhile, some neighborhoods have gone so far as to host "squishathon" events to encourage people to kill them in droves.

Even amidst pesky threats to local agriculture, there are still some pretty radical political stances on the spotted lanternfly.

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