Rachel Bergey, a Harleysville middle school student, has come up with a novel and chemical free way to control spotted lanternflies (SLF) using a few easily available items and the insect’s natural behavior pattern.

See Rachel demonstrate her trap here

I tried this invention in a neighborhood that has a lot of SLF and it works! However – it was late in the season and the adults had already laid their eggs and were going to die, if not at that time, as soon as the first frost hits. So I will set it up again in early spring when the young begin to hatch and move about and report back as to the efficacy of this invention. I hope we can use it in our parks; SLF have started to appear on trees in Cheltenham.


Here are my views on other control methods.

Sticky Traps: Too many really helpful “bugs” and birds are caught in these and I have abandoned the idea altogether. Next year I recommend buying and releasing Praying Mantises; they seem to be eating SLF. Penn State (and others), continues making observations and looking for solutions. I will not use pesticides. When the state sprayed for mosquitoes 2 years ago the pesticide killed off all the bees from one active hive in a tree that I’ve been aware of for decades. What other beneficial insects were killed I do not know, but if the reader knows, please contact the CCC so we can let everyone know.

The Pesticide Treadmill: Not a good treadmill! Here’s how it works. A pesticide is used to kill a targeted pest. It kills many of the targeted pest. But there are survivors who are resistant to the pesticide. The survivors reproduce generations of resistant offspring who survive the next round of the use of the same pesticide. The increased numbers of that pest are noted and a stronger pesticide is invented to kill them. The survivors of that stronger pesticide reproduce resistant offspring, and so it goes. Stronger and stronger pesticides are invented and used to the point where people and the beneficial predators (birds, insects, etc.), are harmed or killed, the water and soil become polluted, and on and on. A good way to get off the pesticide treadmill is to use other methods, which can easily be found and used, like planting to encourage beneficial insects to visit and multiply in your garden, traps like the one in the invention mentioned here, use of native plants, and removal of non-native and invasive species, etc. Plan ahead over the winter.

Learn more about Rachel’s invention here

Also, learn about Integrated Pest Management online.

                                                                          by Judith Gratz, Environmental Education Specialist

Harleysville Middle School Student Invents Trap for Spotted Lanternflies


Lanterflies captured in trap I constructed.

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