Tuesday, July 23rd, 2024

MU Grad Helps Protect Lancaster County from Lanternflies  

Individuals can use wildlife-safe traps such as sticky tape to catch Spotted Lanternflies.

After interning with the Lancaster County Conservation District in the summer of 2019, Millersville University graduate Amanda Goldsmith fell in love with land-owner conservation and knew she wanted to work for the organization. Goldsmith graduated from Millersville in December 2019 summa cum laude with a major in biology, concentrating on environmental biology. In 2020, she got her chance.

Materials that Amanda Goldsmith created for the Lancaster County Conservation District.

When the Lancaster County Conservation District received a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to help educate the community on the dangers of Spotted Lanternflies, Goldsmith was employed as a resource for the Lancaster community. Through her work, Goldsmith made a difference in the community by helping Lancaster residents control and stop the spread of Spotted Lanternflies.

The grant was used by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to help residents become independent in controlling the bugs within their community. The grant work included trap distribution and education, managing the Tree of Heaven treatment program as these trees are a favored host of Spotted Lanternflies and reimbursing municipalities that conducted control work.

Spotted lanternfly

“The Spotted Lanternfly is a developing issue, but for now, the impact is mostly limited to vineyards and homeowners. The flies feed on the sap of certain trees and excretes the half-digested sap beneath them, weakening trees and creating an environment for black sooty mold to grow. For homeowners, this can mean sticky driveways, sticky ‘rain’ falling from your trees, an unattractive black area around your tree, and swarms of hundreds to thousands of flies per tree,” says Goldsmith.

Goldsmith provides the following tips to stop the spread:

  •  Individuals can use wildlife-safe traps such as sticky tape with a mesh barrier or a circle trap. Using sticky tape without a barrier can potentially kill native birds, bats and important insects. The barrier also increases trap effectiveness and protects wildlife.
  • Citizens can check their vehicles for eggs, nymphs and adult Flies to stop them from spreading. This helps avoid the bugs traveling out of state and spreading further.
  • It is important to avoid using pesticides unless absolutely necessary to protect PA’s native wildlife. This includes homemade sprays such as soapy water, as these can damage native plants. Individuals can try trapping, scraping eggs or using a shop vac as alternative methods to collect the insects.

“While Spotted Lanternfly is very unlikely to kill your plants or trees, it is a real nuisance to homeowners. For vineyards, there have been some alarming impacts including reduced yield, increased pesticide use, and killed vines. Once again, this is a developing issue and with the species only being in Pennsylvania since 2014, we still have a lot to learn about this invasive pest and its impacts,” says Goldsmith.

In addition to her internship Goldsmith attributes her success to her education from Millersville University’s science departments.

“The professors in the biology, chemistry and physics department were phenomenal, and their mentoring gave me the skills to succeed. To list just a few, Dr. (John) Wallace propelled me towards the career path I am in now. Dr. (Aaron) Haines taught me science communication skills and conservation tools. And, Dr. Stieha gave me practical experience in grant language and scientific inquiry. Dr. (Kathryn) Allen and Dr. (Jeremiah) Mbindyo in the chemistry department were also incredible resources. I am forever grateful for my education and experiences which helped start my career in conservation.”

For more resources on how to stop the spread of Spotted Lanternflies, check out the Lancaster County Conservation District!








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