The Penn State Berks Center for the Agricultural Sciences and a Sustainable Environment is studying the role telephone poles can play in monitoring and eradicating the invasive spotted lanternfly.
CASSE continues to be one of the leading sites for research into effective procedures for controlling invasive leafhoppers through support from the United States and Pennsylvania Departments of Agriculture, as well as other grants.
Mottled lanterns are attracted to tall objects like skyscrapers, gas pumps, pillars and trees, according to John Rost, a researcher with the Department of Horticulture at Penn State Berks. Lanterns use these perches for orientation before looking for a place to feed.
At CASSE, telephone poles were used as monitoring devices to test eradication methods. In the study, eight poles were set up in a straight line to keep replication. Two types of traps were installed on each pole: an upper trap with an impermeable barrier except for an opening at the bottom, and a pole section wrapped in pesticide-soaked netting, which the insects encountered during their upward journey. At the bottom of the pole, there is a trap to collect the falling dead lanterns.
Four of the poles had white netting, like those used in tobacco houses, while the other four had black netting, typically used against mosquitoes, the researchers explained.
Rost explained that the insects cling to the poles and then climb to the top where they encounter the upper net-covered trap, which exposes them to an insecticide.
“We’re trying to see if height matters, so we have two poles [outfitted with traps with each type of netting] halfway up and we have the other two at the top,” Rost said. “We find that we lose fewer lanterns in the mid-drop because they have a shorter drop.” He said that lanterns that die on the upper poles tend to be blown away.
According to Rost, the researchers noticed a difference in efficiency between the two trap materials. The Mosquito Net was more effective at eradicating the Lanterns, causing them to die and fall within minutes. The Tobacco Net required a longer contact time before the Lanterns succumbed and fell into the trap.
Before the study, individual lanterns were treated with a fluorescent dye. This helped the research team determine if they caught the insects released at regular intervals from the poles and how attractive the poles are to lanterns. Sorting the colored lanterns from the natural population also helped the researchers determine whether the traps attracted more females or males.
“We find that it varies from the beginning to the end of the adult life cycle stage. They are mostly males in the first movement of adults as they seem to be the first to emerge. Then we find that they are females towards the final stages, because they are looking to lay eggs at this stage,” Rost said.
The study of telephone poles is in its first year at CASSE. Penn State Extension spotted lanternfly educator Brian Walsh participated in the study; he has been studying at the pole for three years in the region.
Rost said when it comes to spotted lantern research, it can be difficult to track behavioral patterns because of how quickly the insects adapt.
“Any time we think we see a trend emerging and we’ve collected two years of consistent data, it’s completely deviated by the third year. So we are trying to find out if he is going back to the old cycle,” he said.
Adult Mottled Lanterns gather in large groups to feed on a favorite or “hot” tree before moving on to the next, said the researchers, who are also trying to figure out why the insects become so attached to a specific tree, and what factors are at play. a role in fixing them.
About the Dappled Lantern
The spotted lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula, is an invasive insect that came to Berks County from Asia in 2014. Their prominence has since spread along the eastern seaboard from Connecticut to Georgia. Mottled lantern’s feeding causes stress on some plants and localized damage; feeding them does not necessarily kill other plants.
Mottled Lanterns hatch in late spring in May or June, within a week or two depending on a region’s climate. Once the lanterns hatch, there are four stages – or stages of development – they go through before becoming adults. At each stage, the number of Lanterns that gather increases.
“At first, when they’re about the size of a tick, they spread everywhere [the area]feeding on everything they encounter and are always on the move”, Rost said. “As they get more mature, you’ll start to see a whole range on one plant, but the next day they move on to another plant.”
During the second and third instars, the nymphs grow larger and retain their black and white spots. In the fourth stage, they take on a reddish color.
“As they reach this fourth instar, they begin to congregate on woody plants like vines, walnuts, maples, sumac, and sky trees. By the time they reach the adult stage, that’s when they’re most visible and what everyone recognises,” He continued.
In previous studies, one of the most important findings that Rost and other CASSE researchers said they found is which insecticides are most effective at killing SLF but will be least effective at harming non-target species. . The researchers tested different application methods on peach trees, vines and trees of paradise, analyzing the effects on the lanterns depending on how and when the insecticide is applied to the plants. Currently, insecticides containing bifenthrin or dinotefuran are effective when used according to labels.
About the Center for Agricultural Science and Sustainable Environment
The Penn State Berks Center for the Agricultural Sciences and a Sustainable Environment was formally established in 2016 to conduct research in agriculture, horticulture, plant and soil ecology, rhizosphere, microbiome and lawns, as well as supporting education and awareness efforts. on the campus. The center also participates in campus sustainability initiatives through the composting program.