How do you stop a destructive bug from crawling all over your favorite tree? In 2019, fourteen-year-old Pennsylvanian Rachel Bergey invented an effective zero-pesticide trap for invasive spotted lanternflies: A foil tree ring with one throughway… up into a net trap. Via WFMZ-TV:
“They die about 24 hours later. She killed 1,200 of them in two weeks with just two traps.”
Spotted lanternflies are beautiful-looking insects, but they cause quick damage to fruit crops and forests. Indigenous to eastern Asia, this planthopper “is thought to have arrived as egg masses on a stone shipment in 2012,” and has since been named Public Enemy #1 in the bug world.
“Adult lanternflies can put their piercing, sucking mouthparts through the bark of trees, stealing nutrients and weakening the tree’s vascular system. [Penn State Extension commercial horticulture educator Sandy] Feather said this diet is very high in carbohydrates but not high in protein, so the lanternflies must almost feed continuously. That’s troubling for plant life, but the insects’ sticky, sappy excrement (which Feather said is “politely called honeydew”) can also do damage.
“’We think of them as plant stressors,’ Feather said. ‘If there’s a lot of feeding going on on a tree, something else could come along like root rot disease that would make the tree susceptible.'”
In the autumn of 2019, Bergey won a Lemelson Award for Invention from The Lemelson Foundation for creating a promising solution to a real-world problem. And, perhaps, one of the best features of her homemade lanternfly trap is that it is easy and affordable for anyone to make.
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