Invasive species are, well, our fault. If you’re a human reading this, at some point your ancestors probably thought taking a tree or animal from one place and putting it somewhere else was a harmless idea. Someone planted bamboo on Cape Cod and thought nothing could go wrong. Zebra muscles make water cleaner, that’s good for the Great Lakes, right?
The rest of humankind’s time on this once-greener earth will be spent attempting to undo our worst mistakes, and according to scientists it is now your task to kill every last lanternfly you see. As a story in the New York Times detailed, the spotted lanternfly is an invasive species from Asia that’s currently causing trouble in the northest. And despite its oddly buggy beauty, it needs to f*cking die.
The story begins with a man in New York frantically squishing these creatures that he saw in the city, which sounds morbid but soon becomes clear is for good reason: it’s a threat to a bunch of plants and they seem to reproduce rapidly.
Mr. Biollo understood that the lanternfly is a problem for many reasons, but mostly because it zealously feeds on the sap of more than 70 plant species, leaving them susceptible to disease and destruction from other natural antagonists, threatening to set back the fight against climate change. In Pennsylvania, the issue is taken so seriously that the state issued a Spotted Lanternfly Order of Quarantine and Treatment, which imposes fines and even potential criminal penalties on anyone who intentionally moves the bug, at any stage of its life, from one sort of location to another via “recreational vehicles, tractors, mowers, grills” as well as “tarps, mobile homes, tile, stone, deck boards” or “fire pits.”
The insects hop and fly only short distances, but they move with ease and reproduce maniacally. “They can hitch a ride on a baseball cap in the back of your car,” Ronnit Bendavid-Val, the director of horticulture at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, told me. “I can’t think of something they don’t lay their eggs on — cloth, metal, furniture, sides of buildings and of course trees.” There are no natural predators that go after them, no organic pesticides to shut down their operation, so “if you see one, “squish it,” Ms. Bendavid-Val said, “that’s the message.”
The story is a bit more nuanced than pure bloodlust, but it’s a good starting point if you actually want to help keep the planet alive. Which is why social media had a lot of fun with the direct order to end life for the greater good.
Did my part for the borough by looking like a total psycho stalking and killing a spotted lanternfly on the sidewalk outside the grocery store today https://t.co/1WHBpIcyIP
— Amanda Mull (@amandamull) September 12, 2021
OMG I just saw one near the Penn Plaza Sweetgreen but thought it was pretty and left it alone I'M SORRY SOMEBODY FIND AND KILL IT! https://t.co/sWqdsnGLd7
— EJ Samson (@ejsamson) September 16, 2021
"I love squash pie and squishy slugs but what I loves best is skushin' bugs" Little ditty from my youth in Texas and now a past time in NJ.
Now Die, Beautiful Spotted Lanternfly, Die https://t.co/Z2mSKyUjk2
— Ellen Frede (@EllenFrede) September 16, 2021
📰 This #BadBug has been running all over town.
Name: Spotted Lanternfly
Description: Suspect appears to be an adult, approximately 1" long and 1/2" wide at rest, grey in color with contrasting red and black wings with black spots. pic.twitter.com/UnQ9ymgNJm
— PA Department of Agriculture (@PAAgriculture) September 17, 2021
Yoiks! end of days reporting from @GiniaNYT :
You might hunt down this creature, pulverize it and feel like a warrior, but still you would be forced to recognize the insect’s natural gift for metaphor. https://t.co/Y3QhPG9X0e
— penelope green (@greenpnyt) September 16, 2021
Killed one of these suckers this morning https://t.co/Q3sS8WlhfZ
— AJ Horch (@AJHorch) September 16, 2021
— WmFerguson (@WmFerguson) September 16, 2021
Even the New York City Parks twitter account is cheering on murder.
Have no fear, you are a civic hero! Spotted lanternflies are a threat to our city's forests. NYC, be like Sara! If you see a spotted lanternfly, squish it, dispose of it, and report it to us at https://t.co/LpuGFh97La. https://t.co/DppTLvGQAm
— NYC Parks (@NYCParks) September 14, 2021
Some actually did have helpful advice though.
informative illustration of the invasive spotted lanternfly pic.twitter.com/nkFu2Xizyq
— maria garcia (@tulipsmg) September 16, 2021
In any event, good luck with all that murdering out there. Know you’re doing far more to stop climate change with every stomp than most major companies.
[via NY Times]